In 2019, the Environment Agency sampled 420 bathing waters in England and seven were classified as “Poor”. 98.3% of bathing waters met the minimum standard of “Sufficient” set by the Bathing Water Regulations 2013 (“the Regulations”) and 71.4% met the highest “Excellent” standard.
Hundreds of projects have been completed to address poor bathing water quality and successfully drive up standards. Water companies have invested £2.5 billion to reduce pollution, councils and charities have run campaigns to keep beaches clean and advice has been provided to farmers on how to reduce pollution into rivers.
The remaining “Poor” bathing waters all have complex problems that require partnership working with stakeholders to rectify issues. Sources of pollution identified include sewer misconnections, sea birds, dogs, run-off from urban and agricultural land, as well as sewage from combined sewer overflows and septic tanks. The Environment Agency is working with partners to look for solutions to these problems.
Pollution risk forecasting provides advice against bathing when conditions such as rain or tide or wind increase the risk of reduced water quality.