Browsing articles from "March, 2014"
Mar 23, 2014

Water quality around the South-West

As everyone is aware the vis has been really bad around the UK over the last few weeks since the storms, especially so in the South-West and some divers have reported 2-5m in some areas but the normal level has been 0.5m-1m and it can clearly be seen from the surface that it is extremely milky.

The amount of runoff from the river catchments has been high due to the excessive rainfall we have had since the start of December but this would be expected to clear within a week or 2 from the time the rainfall ended as the waterlogged ground drained. This hasn’t happened and the water has remained milky without falling out in an expected time frame, so this brings into question what the issue is and what is (are) the contaminant(s) that is creating the problem.

I have trawled through the various agency sites looking for answers but have found none, one possibility that occurred to me was the palm oil that is dumped as the high volume of cargo ships clean out their ballast tanks, I do not think this is the most likely cause though as the amount of palm oil would be in the many millions of  tons to cause it to last this long. Another possible cause is something in the sediment that has been released as the many billions of tons of sand around the South-West was disturbed back into the water column, the heavier sand and pollutants falling out quickly leaving this milky substance that is ruining our pleasure of the sea at present.

I am going to be getting onto the Environment agency and Devon and Cornwall councils in the next few days to see if they would be willing to run some water quality tests over the next month or so, outside of their normal testing dates, to find the cause and to find if it is harmful in any way. As of yet none of the DivingJunkies in the South-West have grown 2 heads or complained of anything when they have come out of very short and uneventful dives but without knowing what it is, and if there is any longer term exposure issues it is best to say that everyone needs to be careful when they are diving, to try not to consume large amounts of sea water and to make sure they shower as soon as possible after their dive.

Will keep you updated when I find out more.