Non-compliance of beaches with the EU directives of bathing water quality: evidence of non-point sources of pollution in Morecambe Bay


Department of Biological Sciences, Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster ***LA1 4YQ UK (e-mail:


Morecambe's three EU designated bathing beaches frequently fail the EU directives, even after a state of the art sewage treatment plant has become operational. We have been using conventional microbiology to look at the seasonality and distribution of indicator and pathogenic bacteria in Morcambe Bay and using molecular methods (polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and pulse field gel electrophoresis (PFGE)) to investigate the pathways by which pathogens reach the bathing waters. We will present data for Morecambe Bay which show that:

  • 1Failures and passes appear to be associated with the prevailing climatic conditions.
  • 2Indicator bacteria may not always be derived from sewage effluents.
  • 3Not all pathogens are distributed in the same way as indicator bacteria.
  • 4Pathogens such as Campylobacter are as likely to come from birds as from sewage.