Over the last 20 years we’ve made huge progress in making our beaches and bathing waters cleaner.
In 1988 only 18% of our bathing waters met minimum standards, in 2016 this was 100%.
Below is information on how we got there and how we’ll keep it that way…

2013 bathing water season results

Defra has announced that 99% of England’s bathing waters met European water quality standards in 2013. Every week between May and September the Environment Agency tests levels of bacteria in samplestaken from bathing waters designated for swimming and paddling. We have 32 bathing waters in the North West with 88% complying with the standards in 2013. However, four of them failed meaning two of the 20 samples taken didn’t meet the minimum standards. A fail doesn’t mean the water quality is always poor.But it does mean there’s more we need to do to keep beaches and bathing waters clean, including investment in infrastructure, beach clean ups, tackling misconnected drains, education around litter and dog mess, working with farmers and partnership groups across the region.

In 2015 the standards become almost twice as strict. Please check your drains are connected right so that ‘dirty water’ from toilets and washing machines goes into the foul sewer and not surface drains. Visit www.connectright.org.uk for more information.You don’t have to live by the sea to make a difference!

Neil Jack, Chair of Turning Tides, said: “We know how people love to come to the seaside in the North West and we are proud that our hard work has led to more bathing waters complying with tough European standards. We’re committed to working together across the partnership and with volunteers, businesses, farmers and local communities to make sure our beaches continue to thrive.”

Please see What can I do? to find out how you can help and if you spot pollution, call the Environment Agency incident line on 0800 80 70 60.

Environment Agency water sampler

Employee volunteering

Anna-Clare O’Neill shared her thoughts with us after joining a beach clean in Blackpool organised with LOVEmyBEACH by the local Business In The Community group. The event in South Shore was available to businesses to promote Give & Gain 2013 day in Blackpool and give them an easy way to try employee volunteering and experience the benefits. The group did a litter pick on the beach and carried out a nature survey. Anna is a freelance PR consultant who saw the event as a way to spend time at the beach and give something back. Anna said of the experience:

“I had a great time and met some lovely people, though there wasn’t much to clean up as the beach was spotless to begin with! I love the coast. I moved down to the North West from Newcastle in May – we lived near the sea there so I’m really missing the beautiful local beaches. I think it’s really important to look after the environment and I’m hoping to attend another clean up event soon.”

If you’d like to come along to a beach clean – see our ‘Events’ section. If you’d like to organise a beach clean with work colleagues, friends or for a local group such as Brownies, just get in touch with a co-ordinator – see our ‘Contact’ section. We hope to see you soon!

Employees volunteering on a beach clean

Crystal asks pupils to help reduce pollution

A new Environment Agency video about the causes of bathing water pollution has sparked a new wave of pupil-pressure to wipe-out accidental pollution by parents. The Crabby video, which has captured the imagination of schools, is the quirky tale of Crystal the Crab on her journey to the beach, where she sees first-hand what makes our sea dirty and finds out how we can make it Crystal-clear! The bathing water season is now over and many seaside towns are waiting to find out how their local bathing waters were classified this year. Results are affected by heavy rainfall, run-off from farm land, wrongly connected washing machines and toilets and dog fouling. To view the video click here.