Water quality in England has been improving significantly over recent decades: we have the cleanest bathing waters since records began, serious pollution incidents are steadily declining and rivers that were biologically dead are reviving.
In 2017 the Environment Agency (EA) collected 95,202 water samples and tested them for a total of 1,745,242 individual measures of water quality. The table below shows the numbers of samples and tests for the previous seven years.
In this period monitoring activity peaked in 2013 due to extensive water quality investigations required for the first cycle of the Water Framework Directive which informed River Basin Management Plans published in 2015. Since then the EA has refined its monitoring programmes to make them even more targeted, risk based and efficient. For example, the EA has been able to deliver a 20% reduction in monitoring for the bathing water directive as a result of the improvements in water quality secured in recent years and better scientific understanding of quality at each bathing water. Similar approaches are being applied to other monitoring programmes so that the EA can focus its monitoring activity where it is needed to drive improvements and effectively manage pressures on the water environment.
Number of water samples
Number of tests for individual measures of water quality