WINEP (Cullercoats Bay Bathing Water Study)

The Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP), formerly known as the National Environment Programme (NEP), is a national investment programme for all water only and water and wastewater companies. It includes investigations, monitoring, options appraisals and schemes to drive improvements and prevent deterioration and protect the water environment. These commitments form part of each water company’s Asset Management Plan (AMP) and form a set of regulatory obligations which must be delivered. This study will be focusing on Cullercoats Bay.

Project updates

Update by Graeme Ridley

Good afternoon,

Just an update today with regards the planned EA bathing water season 2021 sampling starting on the 15th May, the Local Authority's responsibility on static signage and additional information to note.

The Environment Agency are responsible for providing notifications to the public when it is forecast that bathing water quality might be impacted, such as from diffuse sources linked to rainfall. These notifications are provided during the official bathing water season (15th May to 30th September) as part the EA’s Pollution Risk Forecasting system and sent every morning to the electronic sign that is in place at Cullercoats. Further information can be found here: and also here:

The Local Authority are legally responsible for displaying the required information in static signage at each designated bathing water, including Cullercoats. Further details can be found here:

Northumbrian Water are responsible for making sure that wastewater assets near to the bathing water are maintained and operated so as to maintain bathing water quality at designated sites. Significant investment over the past 30 years has resulted in a huge improvement in bathing water quality with over £7m being invested between 2020 and 2025 to improve seawater quality further. Since 2012, NWL also provides an all-year-round Beach Aware service of real time storm overflow alerts. This information and the EA’s PRFs are used by Surfers Against Sewage in their Safer Seas Service app.

The Phase 2 WINEP Cullercoats investigations are well underway. This Thursday, 25 March 2021 we will be on the beach again having a further investigation of the caves.

Please add your own updates if you would care to do so, I will respond. The more information we have will only help and, enable my Project Team and the Cullercoats Bathing Water Quality Group build up the evidence to understand the reasons for the recent deterioration of bathing water at Cullercoats.

Graeme Ridley

(NWG Project Manager)


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Update by Graeme Ridley

Dear Mr Laing,

Thank you for your update. The investigations now being undertaken are following a detailed review or “gap analysis” by our specialist consultants taking into account all the work that has taken place through the partnership group to date. Phase 1 of this project, which was completed as part of NWG WINEP Cullercoats study, was to identify what investigations are necessary to undertake in 2021 that build on the investigations previously done as well as exploring new areas of interest.

There are now four packages of investigative work that will be undertaken before Easter 2021: mapping of underground sewer and surface water pipes; CCTV of underground sewers and surface water pipes; manhole surveys at specific locations; cave investigations at the beachRegulatory delivery dates for Bathing Water Quality investigations were moved by the Environment Agency when the Covid-19 issues started for the UK in March 2020, from 30th September 2021 to September 2022, a twelve month extension. However, the NWG project team, who are still working within an over-arching collaborative partnership group (Cullercoats Bathing Water Quality Group), will endeavour to understand the reasons for the current recent status of Bathing Water quality in Cullercoats beach by the delivery date of September 2021.

I’ll post may more updates in the months ahead to keep you well informed.

Graeme Ridley

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Update by Graeme Ridley

Good afternoon.

There will be sewer mapping work starting on Thursday, 18th February 2021 in the John Street & local area to John Street. Kwikflow will be undertaking this work on behalf of NWG. 

This will involve cctv work of the NWG sewers to check connectivity of the sewers to the "John Street culvert". This culvert is well known in this location and has been investigated many times in the past before with North Tyneside Council. The reason for the mapping work now is to further investigate in more detail and try to confirm if there is any connectivity between the sewers and the culvert. Also we will be doing sewer manhole surveys in the location also to the areas around John Street.

Also working with North Tyneside Council, we will be undertaking small diameter pilot drills through the vertical concrete plug that is in one of the caves at the back of the beach, so you will see some activity down on the beach in that location hopefully next week also. This work will be dependent on working on the receding and low tides, as at high tide the level does get as far as the caves. This work is to determine if there is any standing water behind the concrete plug and undertake cctv of the void of the cave behind the concrete plug. We believe this concrete plug was installed for safety reasons to the public, as this particular cave is allegedly a long cave that does go well back in land from the beach, according to what I've heard.

I'll keep you undated on any further investigations.

Graeme Ridley (NWG Project Manager)


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Update by Graeme Ridley

Good morning,

I am pleased to inform you that Esh Stantec (NWG's technical consultant) have completed the Phase 1 report on the WINEP Cullercoats project. The aim of this first report was

  1. To undertake a review of all the known surveys, repairs, investigations and studies undertaken to date in connection with the deterioration of Bathing Water quality and classification in recent years;
  2. Identify any data gaps that may need investigating to further our understanding of the cause for the deterioration in bathing water quality;
  3. Produce a summary report outlining the reviewed data and any recommendations for subsequent investigations to be undertaken during the second phase of investigation.

The Phase 1 report summary and "gap analysis" has identified the following five key areas as gaps of our knowledge:

  1. We need to establish the source of all flows into the John Street underground culverted watercourse;
  2. Connectivity surveys and dye tracing of the beachfront facilities undertaken to date, have confirmed satisfactory connections to NWG sewer network, however the integrity and condition of these assets is not fully known. Investigations will now be undertaken to ensure there are no significant defects to these assets;
  3. The presence of other hidden culverts potentially discharging onto the beach infiltrating underground, that are not visible on the surface. There is anecdotal evidence that there is another two underground culverts local to Cullercoats bay;
  4. Further investigations and analysis into the local geology is recommended, with a focus on the significance of the geology that might be providing a preferential flow pathway towards the bathing water;
  5. The nature of Cullercoats bay is such that it is an enclosed beach with two piers, potentially having an impact on flows in and out of the bay area. The significance of this, as well as the potential impact on the natural sandbars present in the bay area, will be investigated further.

The above five areas in the Phase 1 report "gap analysis" will be investigated further as we move into 2021. Further data collection that may require trial pits, boreholes, pipe CCTV work will resume in and around the beach front areas. We continue to work with the Cullercoats Bathing Water Quality Group (NWG, Environment Agency or North Tyneside Council) to work together so we can this year understand more precisely the reason(s) and bacterial source(s) of why the bathing water quality has been deteriorating in recent years.

The Phase 1 report examined the last five years of data from NWG's two storm overflows located within close proximity to the bathing water at Cullercoats. This data is held within NWG's eSCADA telemetry system and was reviewed to assess the performance of the sewerage network to identify any discharges from storm overflows. The records indicate that there have been no discharge events at the storm overflows in recent years.

I will provide more updates for you as we move into 2021.

Graeme Ridley

(NWG Project Manager)

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