A Barry nature group, Barry Action for Nature, has organised a meet at The Knap Watch Tower on Saturday June 8 - World Ocean day - to advocate for clean, swimmable water around Barry and The Vale.

The nature advocate, Robert Curtis, Barry, 59, posted on his facebook page and local pages to advertise their demonstration, this Saturday, of anger and frustration as to why sewage levels in Welsh water is at an all time high and why the Old Harbour - Watch Tower beach in Barry is 1 of 2 local swimming spots to be rates ‘poor’ in their water quality.

The other ‘poor’ rated water quality is at Ogmore Beach. Another beautiful spot in the Vale where visitors and locals usually enjoy the natural beauty. We spoke with Mr Curtis directly who explained this is unexceptable and ‘’we as a community need to expect more from our council and Welsh Water’’.

Local residents and visitors were told not to swim in these beautiful parts of the Vale on 18th May and 25th and 26th May. In which, the barry nature group stated it was unlawful as people are free to use the foreshore owned by the crown estates. Friends of the Earth Barry&Vale express their concern that the RNLI had no right to order people to leave the sea by a loudspeaker.

Last summer, Natural Resources Wales sampling showed one huge spike in sewage microbes, which is believed to have come from Penybont sewage works discarding untreated sewage into the river Ogwr 2.5km away. Penybont Sewage works did this 105 times in a year for an average of 15 hours per dump. This is one of the worst sewage discharges in South Wales.

Friends of the Earth Barry & Vale told us that The Vale Council has to challenge both RNLI and Natural Resources Wales, and reject their spoiling people’s enjoyment of beaches on spurious grounds.

Watchtower Bay beach is a simpler case, the nature group says. Natural Resources Wales’ bathing water profile admits the Knap pumping station can discharge “excess flows” via the short sea outfall, but doesn’t say this is close to the low-water mark for the Bay. Linking the pumping station to a real-time monitor at the beach, that sounds an alert when the discharge is occurring, would be an easy way for the Vale Council to meet their duty of public information.

Robert Curtis told the Barry and District that this has been going on for years and it's time to take action before it gets worse. Curtis is worried that if no action by locals is taken soon, this issue will last years until something is done about it.

The demonstration will be followed by a beach clean organised by Barry Action for Nature. Everybody is welcome. Saturday 8th June should be a perfect day to be in the sun, fighting for a cleaner Wales for all.

iona Hourahine, operations ,anager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “In Wales, we have some of the best bathing waters in the UK, and we’re incredibly proud of that record. The 2023 bathing water season was particularly wet and challenging, and that is reflected in the results. 

"The bathing waters which have been classified poor – Watch House Bay in Barry and Ogmore-By-Sea – were new designations made by the Welsh Government for the 2023 season.

“We’re disappointed that these bathing waters did not reach the water quality standards. We’ll work with the Welsh Government, Vale of Glamorgan Council and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to investigate the reasons behind these failures and to work towards improving the results in future years.

“Despite some of the challenges we’ve faced this year, 98% of our bathing waters have met stringent water quality standards, with 80 of our 109 meeting the ‘excellent’ criteria.”

Vale of Glamorgan Council and Welsh Water were also approached for a comment.