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…

Sefton survey results

Sefton has three bathing water beaches where people swim and paddle – Formby Lifeboat Road, Ainsdale and Southport. In June, 381 people responded to our survey about beaches and bathing waters in Sefton. The main reasons people gave for visiting a beach are walking, enjoying the scenery, and peace and quiet. Whilst few visit to swim or paddle, 94% feel that a clean sea is important when deciding to visit the beach.

Only half of those surveyed said they were aware of the current water quality at Sefton’s beaches. In fact all of Sefton’s bathing waters passed the minimum European standards in 2013. Most were able to identify sources of pollution in our sea water such as sewer drainage and they generally know what they can do at home to tackle them, such as checking drains are connected correctly at www.connectright.org.uk and putting wet wipes in the bin not down the toilet. And they know when they go to the beach not to leave litter, to clean up after their dog or horse, and not to feed the birds.

9 in 10 people feel they have a ‘local’ beach but very few think they can impact water quality. You can! A whopping 103 people want to help our campaign. If you’d like to – check out ‘What can I do?’ and please help keep our beaches clean.

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Why I volunteer

So many people who live along Britain’s coasts rarely go down to their local beach. When we returned to St Annes, having lived and worked in the Manchester area for many years, I was determined that living “at the seaside” would mean that I regularly saw the sea!
Being a LOVEmyBEACH volunteer makes me appreciate how lucky I am to live on the Fylde coast. Helping to keep the beach clean, by picking up litter once a week, is a pleasure, not a chore. Our small friendly group meanders along the shore collecting any debris that has been left by visitors or by the tide. We always hope we might discover something exciting, though sadly the bulk of the litter consists of bottles, cans and sweet wrappers. But at the end of our morning’s work, we can clearly see the huge difference we’ve made, so it’s always very satisfying.

Janet Curran, St Annes North beach volunteer

If you’d like to become a LOVEmyBEACH volunteer like Janet, click What can I do? to find out more.

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