Combe Martin Parish Council’s and the Environment Agency have joined forces to highlight the problem by organising a Dog Awareness Day on Saturday, May 14 between 10am and 1pm on the beach, at Kiln Car Park and Combe Martin Museum, when the Keep Britain Tidy beach award flag will be flown for the first time this year.
Most owners clean-up after their dogs, but it only takes a few irresponsible dog owners to affect water quality.
Members of the Combe Martin Parish Council formed a working party with the Combe Martin Tourism Association, Earl of Rone Council, Combe Martin museum and Carnival Committee, to work with the Environment Agency to improve bathing water quality at Combe Martin.
Bathing water quality at beaches across the South West have improved dramatically over the last 20 years. The Environment Agency is working with a number of organisations to address all the issues that affect bathing water quality.
In 2010 Keep Britain Tidy ran a national dog fouling campaign to encourage irresponsible dog owners to clean up after their pets.
Combe Martin Parish Council chairman Julia Clark said: “It is vital that we have as little pollution as possible going into the River Umber and directly into the sea on the beach, so we are asking villagers and visitors to play their part, either by being responsible dog owners or by encouraging others to do the same.”
The Dog Awareness attractions will include dog competitions, a seaside safari and bouncy castle.
The Environment Agency and South West Water will be there to explain more about the implications of the bathing water quality. Refreshments will be available from the Museum, who will also have their interactive Marine Science Pod open.
“We welcome all responsible dog owners to the area during the summer months, but do, however, expect that dog owners comply with the rules about picking up dog mess and not allowing it to enter the sea. This can have a real impact on the quality of bathing water,” said Robin Pearson from the Environment Agency.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach between Easter and the end of September, but there are many lovely walks around Combe Martin.
On the same day, Environment Officer Robin will present Combe Martin parish council with a salinity meter, so the local community can test the salt levels in the sea. High salt levels are often a good indicator of good water quality.
Fiona Ashurst from Keep Britain Tidy said: “Dog fouling is the most offensive type of litterand is constantly rated as one of the most important issues by the public in their local area.
“Having our beaches, parks and streets caked in dog mess is disgusting. It looks unsightly, can make areas appear run down, is unpleasant for those who stand in it and can be dangerous to health.
“Being a responsible dog owner means picking up after your pet and putting the bagged mess in any litter bin.”