Gold Rush in Kent
A beach in Kent.

A British beach is no longer safe to swim in for the rest of this year because of the presence of unsafe levels of bacteria in its waters.

The UK Environment Agency has put up a "Do Not Swim" sign at St. Mary's Bay on Romney Marsh in Kent after significant levels of faecal matter were detected in the water. The experts are now trying to find the cause behind the deterioration of the water quality.

"[The agency] will continue to work with its partners to fully investigate the reasons for the decline in bathing water quality at St Mary's Bay," said a spokesperson for the Environment Agency. "All agencies involved are working to identify, remove, and reduce the sources of the pollution to ensure that the status of this bathing water improves," they added.

The agency further stated that it is monitoring all sources of pollution, including septic tanks, misconnections, and potential sources of diffuse pollution, reports The Mirror.

Recently, a team of experts found traces of cocaine, E. coli, and other harmful chemicals in Hampshire waters during a study carried out to check the water quality. The study was conducted by the Final Straw Foundation in collaboration with researchers from Brunel University and Portsmouth University.

The team studied the water quality in the ports of Langstone and Chichester and was shocked to find traces of drugs, including amphetamines, MDMA, cocaine, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs.

They found that E. coli levels were 760 times the acceptable levels established by the UK Environment Agency. E. coli is a type of bacteria found in the gut that is mostly harmless, but certain types can cause bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and haemolytic uremic syndrome, which is potentially fatal.

Last summer, the EA came down heavily on the bosses of nine water and sewerage companies in England, calling for their chief executives and board members to be jailed. The agency assessed nine such companies for the year 2021 and found that their performance had fallen to the lowest level.

These companies continued to allow sewage to be discharged into water bodies in the UK, and the sector has performed much worse on pollution. As many as seven water companies reported 62 serious pollution incidents, the highest since 2013.

Southern Water and South West Water received just one-star ratings, while Anglian, Thames, Wessex, and Yorkshire were rated only two stars. Meanwhile, Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent Water, and United Utilities did slightly better, getting four stars each in the evaluation.

A House of Commons Committee report also said that water companies have been dumping untreated or partially treated sewage in rivers on a regular basis.