CONTAMINATION in the Thames Estuary meant that a number of Southend beaches lost their much-cherished Blue Flag status in 2013.

An investigation by Anglian Water has now revealed the root cause, and £4million has been allocated to sort out the pollution.

This is welcome, although the state of the estuary is in no way comparable to the horrors of the mid Nineties, when raw human waste was pumped into the waters off Southend.

The present pollution comes mostly from less noxious, though still offensive contaminants, such as untreated rainwater.

Fifteen years ago, this might have been tolerated.

But standards have – quite rightly – been ratcheted up, and what was once acceptable, no longer makes the grade.

Amajor infrastructure programme in the Nineties has seen a massive improvement in sea water quality.

The £4million investment just announced should also succeed in bringing the estuary beaches up to the modern stringent standards.

To some extent, this is also a community effort. Southend residents who live close to the seafront have a part to play, by checking their discharge pipes are properly connected.

There is no practical or financial reason why the affected beaches cannot soon be brought back to Blue Flag status.

The investment should also help to make a further contribution to one of the good news stories of our time – the steady return of healthy marine life, as well as human bathers, to Southend waters.