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In 2023 the WI campaign was ‘Clean rivers for people and wildlife’. The aim being to improve the quality of river water through campaigning for bathing status:

‘Water quality in our rivers is shameful. Legally designated bathing waters must be regularly monitored for pollution. The NFWI urges its members, the wider public, local authorities, and Government to make, support and promote applications for officially designated bathing sites on appropriate stretches of rivers in their area. This will be instrumental to the clean-up of rivers as it has been for water quality improvement at coastal beaches ‘

Arnside is flanked by a 2-mile stretch of the Kent estuary, as it runs into Morecambe Bay. Arnside is part of a National Landscape and the whole of Morecambe Bay is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, so we are justly proud of our waterfront and want it to be its best.

As the Kent flows past it includes not only its own flow of water, but has water from numerous other rivers, it has most recently been joined by the Gilpin and Bela rivers.

There are 3 Sewer Storm Overflows in Arnside and we are down-river from the sewage treatment plant near Milnthorpe. The South Cumbria Rivers Trust sewage map shows that in 2023 there was greater overflow than 2022 – the interactive map can be viewed here: [https://theriverstrust.org/sewage-map].

Throughout the last year we have had conversations with colleagues in Arnside Parish Council, and a new local group, Sustainable Arnside has formed with an interest in the local ecology.

The bay’s treacherous currents, fast-incoming tidal bore and unpredictable quicksand mean that bathing status cannot be endorsed by our local Coast Guards, or the Parish Council. However, Being in and around the water is very much part of the enjoyment of many people who live and visit here.

  • Walkers are on the wet sands and dogs swim in all seasons

  • We have a thriving sailing club

  • Canoeists and sailboarders ride the bore

  • Children paddle and on warmer days people swim, particularly in the many shallower pools left by the outgoing tide

  • The famous cross bay walks start from Arnside’s promenade and every summer thousands of people wade through the water to Kents Bank and Grange-over-Sands.

So: where are we now?

A systematic testing of the waters that flow past our shore would give evidence for action, if needed, regarding the quality of the Kent, and Leighton Beck. We are grateful to the Clean River Kent Campaign for sharing their protocols but further, careful consideration is needed as testing water in tidal flow is complex.

Currently a sub-group including Sustainable Arnside, the Parish Council and the WI has formed to research a methodology for testing. We hope to be able to design and run a testing protocol for 2025.

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