Testing of bathing ‘sites’ water begins for 2023

map of currently clean water to swim in around coast of England

The bathing water season began yesterday (15 May 2023), with monitoring by the Environment Agency now underway. This means regular testing of water quality at ‘designated bathing sites’.

The monitoring means the Environment Agency can assess whether extra action is needed to address water quality at these sites. It says dips in water quality can occur due to factors like rainfall, wind and high tides.

Information on all 424 designated bathing water sites and any forecasted drops in water quality will be published on the Swimfo: find a bathing water website. This provides immediate access to information on every bathing water in England, including coastal locations, inland lakes and the newly designated areas at Sykes Lane Bathing Beach and Whitwell Creek at Rutland Water, Firestone Bay in Plymouth, and the River Deben Estuary at Waldringfield.

“England’s much loved beaches are an essential part of the Great British summer and many businesses and communities rely on their good health for tourism and trade,” says Environment Agency chair Alan Lovell.

“Our Environment Agency officers are out throughout the summer monitoring the quality of local bathing waters and we can take action if minimum standards aren’t being met. Anyone who wants to go swimming can check the results for free on the Swimfo website.

“Bathing water sites have shown enormous improvements in recent decades following significant investment and hard work. There is still more to be done to ensure cleaner and healthier waters for people to enjoy. This will require a combined effort from water companies, farmers, regulators, councils, local businesses and the general public.”

The Environment Agency says it has driven £2.5 billion of investment and facilitated partnerships to dramatically improve bathing waters. Last year, 97.1 per cent of bathing waters met the minimum standard of ‘sufficient’, with 92.8 per cent meeting the highest standards of ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ – the highest since new, stricter standards were introduced in 2015. While progress has been made, the Environment Agency continues to work at pace to ensure more people can enjoy cleaner, healthier waters.

However, this news can’t help but be seen through the continuing appalling news of sewage dumps into the sea. For example, Anglian Water was fined £2.65m after allowing untreated sewage to overflow into the North Sea, a Southsea swimmer with Hepatitis A says she contracted illness from the Solent, Southern Water dumped ‘five months’ of sewage in eight days, raw sewage was pumped into the water at a picturesque public beach in Cornwall last October, and many more incidents.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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