The Environment Agency monitor nearly 500 coastal and inland bathing waters in England and assess whether they comply with the standards of the current Bathing Water Directive (cBWD) which aims to protect public health and the environment from pollution at bathing waters. Bathing waters in England are 'designated' by Defra.
Bathing water quality is assessed from water samples taken by the Environment Agency between the 1st of May and the 30th of September. 20 samples are taken at every bathing water, and the latest sample results are posted on the Environment Agency website, which we are showing you here. The samples are tested for certain types of bacteria which indicate the presence of pollution. Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci are bacteria that are not directly harmful but they indicate the presence of pollution. An increase in concentrations of bacteria indicates a decrease in water quality.
Please note that the latest sample result may not reflect water quality on the actual day you visit the beach, as it can change, particularly after heavy rain.
The different standards are:
This standard is 20 times higher than a 'minimum pass' and means that the water quality is very good as set out by the current Bathing Water Directive (cBWD).
This standard means that the water quality meets the requirements set out by the current Bathing Water Directive (cBWD).
This means that the water quality result from the latest sample failed to meet the required standard as set out by the current Bathing Water Directive (cBWD).
The Environment Agency use the 20 samples to give annual classification for each bathing water. Where the annual classification is a fail, it means that two or more of the 20 samples didn’t meet the minimum standards. This doesn’t mean the water quality is always poor. Often 17 or 18 of the samples taken that year will have met at least the minimum standard.