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…

Improving the sewer system

By 2015, United Utilities will have spent over £1 billion upgrading sewers and wastewater treatment works to help improve bathing waters. Work started in the 1990s on reducing the amount of sewage entering the waters. Between 2010 and 2015, more than £250 million is being invested in work that will help to further improve the region’s bathing waters. This work includes a £120 million storage tunnel in Preston capable of storing enough storm water to fill 14 Olympic sized swimming pools and new storage tanks in Lancaster.

Preston Sewage Tunnel

Wrong connections

Incorrectly plumbed dishwashers, washing machines and toilets can release dirty water into rivers and onto our beaches. Over the last few years the Environment Agency and United Utilities, working alongside local authorities, have been checking homes and businesses for wrong connections. Last year we checked over 3000 properties – 5% of these had wrong connections, and of these 70% were fixed immediately. Work is ongoing to sort any remaining issues.


Working with farmers

It’s important we reduce pollution caused by rainfall washing off farmland. With our partners in Natural England and the National Farmers Union, we want to help farmers do their bit, including increasing the storage time of manure and using ponds and wetlands to improve runoff quality.