Bathing water season begins in Devon and Cornwall

  • Coastal areas will be tested regularly to check water quality
  • Water users can view water quality forecasts on the Swimfo website: Find Swimming Water.

The bathing water season started yesterday (15 May) with the Environment Agency carrying out regular water quality tests at designated bathing sites across Devon and Cornwall until the end september.

High standards of water quality in bathing places are important for everyone to enjoy the beaches of the Southwest. Throughout the bathing season, the Environment Agency will post warnings of any predicted pollution risks on its Swimfo website.

Signs are also posted at these bathing spots to inform bathers of any possible decline in quality due to factors such as rainfall, wind and high tides.

In the fall, Defra will publish its ratings – Adequate, Good, Excellent or Poor – for each designated bathing site.

Bruce Newport, Environment Manager for Devon and Cornwall Region, said:

For the first time ever, 100% of Devon and Cornwall’s designated bathing waters met water quality standards last year, with 98% scoring ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’.

This is great for Devon and Cornwall as it gives people plenty of choice on where they can safely swim this summer.

Our beaches are 100% compliant, but we are not complacent, there is still much to be done to ensure cleaner, healthier waters for people to enjoy.

Although the sea that washes over our bathing beaches is very clean, we are aware that the streams that cross the beaches may contain harmful bacteria. We do not regularly measure the quality of these waterways and ask everyone to be careful if you choose to swim in these areas. If we are notified of pollution events at our waterway locations, we work with the councils to raise awareness.

Since the 1990s, the Environment Agency has generated £2.5 billion in investment and facilitated partnerships to bring about the changes needed to make our bathing waters a success. The long-term trend in bathing water quality in England remains upwards and the overall quality is high.

In 2021, 99% of bathing waters have reached the Sufficient minimum standard. Of these, almost 95% have achieved the highest standards of Excellent or Good – the highest since new standards were introduced in 2015. But while progress has been made, much remains to be done. to ensure cleaner and healthier waters for people to enjoy. .

Environment Agency President Emma Howard Boyd said:

Before the pandemic, coastal tourism in England generated £13.7bn, supported 10,000 tourism-related jobs, with 15-20% of jobs in coastal areas related to tourism – in some places over 50%. Public confidence in the quality of bathing waters is essential for the tourism industry and for the health and well-being of people. We monitor sites and provide pollution risk forecasts at over 170 sites throughout the bathing water season so people understand the local situation.

Decades of targeted regulation and investment on the coast have dramatically improved bathing waters, but more work needs to be done inland. Water companies, industry and farmers must comply with regulatory requirements or face legal action, and we can all take small steps to help. For example, never throwing away wet wipes or plastic products like diapers so they don’t end up in water.

The designation does not guarantee clean water for swimming. Bringing river bathing waters up to standard will be a challenge and will place greater responsibility on farmers, water companies and communities to eliminate pollution that harms bathers.

EA calls on them to play their part and work hard with anyone who wants to be part of the solution. And individual actions matter: small steps like not pouring fats and oils down the sink or flushing wet wipes and other plastic products down the toilet can help protect water quality.

Knowing more about bathing water quality and the range and location of designated sites can help people get the most out of their visit. EA’s Swimfo: Find a Bathing Water website provides immediate access to information on more than 400 designated bathing waters and notifies bathers when pollution risk warnings have been issued. including coastal areas, inland lakes and the newly designated Wolvercote Mill Stream section at Port Meadow in Oxford.

Notes to Editors

  • During the bathing season (May 15 to September 30), the Environment Agency monitors water quality for sources of pollution known to pose a health risk to bathers, with up to 20 samples taken at each site during bathing seasons. Each sample is tested for bacteria, especially E. coli. and intestinal enterococci.
  • The sampling program is defined before the start of the season and follows a strict protocol to ensure that samples are taken consistently both in terms of location and water depth, and also cover a range of tidal states where sampling is safe.
  • The designation of bathing waters takes into account all facilities which are provided to promote and support bathing (e.g. lifeguards, first aid facilities, public toilets, shops and cafes) as the presence of such facilities demonstrates that the site is an established bathing area and is managed for bathing.

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