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…

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.



The Environment Agency monitors water quality in England and Wales and a whopping £3million is spent every year on sampling and analysing bathing waters. Every week during the bathing season samples are taken at our 32 bathing waters. These are then tested and the results are posted on the Environment Agency’s website. We have started to use scientific techniques to improve our knowledge of pollution sources, and we are using DNA testing to help us understand what sort of pollution is causing problems.

Environment Agency