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The Bourne Stream Partnership 2000-2007

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The reasons behind poor water quality at Bournemouth Pier have not always been obvious.  Prior to 2000 and the Bourne Stream Partnership initiative, a number of the organisations now involved in it were carrying out their own investigations into the possible sources of contamination.

Investigations 1992-1999

1992: Wessex Water instigated biological surveys of the stream and the ponds within it; results indicated poor water quality in both, supporting low levels of macro-invertebrates (Wessex Scientific, 1992);

1993-1994: further studies by Wessex Water highlighted probable causes of pollution as run-off from urban areas and gully pots

1993-1995: following their own investigations, Bournemouth Borough Council presented data that confirmed there was a correlation between rainfall events and elevated faecal coliform counts in the stream (Environment Agency, 1996/1997);

1995: the Environment Agency (EA) carried out more detailed studies close to Bournemouth Pier during the bathing water season and drew a probable link between rainfall events and water quality problems at the designated bathing beach west of the Pier (National Grid Reference SZ 408850 90650) (Environment Agency, 1996/1997);

A stream is often capable of diffusing the high levels of bacteria associated with a first flush event, but the Bourne Stream's normal flow is relatively low so does little to dilute pollutants.  It runs only 7km from it's source to the beach at Bournemouth Pier and its course is steep and relatively narrow, giving very little time for water quality to improve before it discharges into Poole Bay. 

In order to minimise the impact of the Bourne stream on local bathing waters, it was concluded by the EA report (1996/1997) that it would be necessary to apply Best Management Practices (BMPs) to the catchment to improve bacterial levels in the Bourne stream.

1998: Consulting Engineers, Peter Brett Associates (PBA), was contracted by the Environment Agency to produce a Scoping Study for Surface Water Run-off Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the catchment.

1999: the report put forward possible in-stream structures, such as ponds and infiltration ditches to increase retention time and provide treatment to improve water quality.

2000: realising that no one single agency could tackle these issues alone, the EA set about forming the Bourne Stream Partnership to take forward the BMPs suggested by PBA.  

The use of BMPs (now more widely known as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, or SUDS) is common in Europe and North America and becoming increasingly widespread in the UK.


(i) a lottery grant application for the construction of a new long sea outfall to accommodate the flow from the Bourne stream at all times was unsuccessful;

(ii) Wessex Water have undertaken improvements to increase storage capacity at Bournemouth No 1 Pumping Station and reduce the frequency with which the stream discharges via the short sea outfall (from approx. 20 to approx. 3 times per year).


Environment Agency (1996/1997) Report into the Bournemouth Pier EC Bathing Water Site - Guideline Failure

Peter Brett Associates (1999) Scoping Study for Surface Water Run-off BMPs in the Bourne Stream Catchment

Wessex Scientific (1992)  Bourne Stream, Dorset: water quality investigations

Wessex Scientific (1993/1994) Bourne Stream, Dorset: water quality investigations


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