Record year for bathing water results in the South West


Results revealed today show it has been a bumper year for bathing water quality in the South West with 191 out of 192 passing the European bathing water quality standards.

Only Instow Beach in Devon fell short of the minimum standard.

Figures released by Defra at the Cleaner Seas Forum in London also showed that a record 91% of the South West bathing waters met stricter guideline standards in 2013.

Water samples are taken from the region’s designated beaches throughout the bathing season that runs from May until the end of September.

This year’s record breaking results are partly due to a much drier summer that has reduced run-off around our coastline.

Benefits are being seen from the work the Environment Agency has been doing with farmers, landowners, water companies, local communities and local authorities to reduce levels of pollution across the region. This year’s results have also been helped by a much drier summer that has led to less run off around our coastline.

These improvements include the Environment Agency successfully investigating and solving pollution issues such as rural and urban run-off from land in specific areas, and detecting misconnections to specific sewerage systems. These actions have led to an encouraging turn around in bathing water quality across the region.

But with more stringent standards coming into force in 2015, there is still more work to do.

‘Bathing water quality has improved significantly over the past two decades, and this year’s results are a tribute to the partnership work that has been undertaken to improve bathing water quality around the coast. This has been a recording breaking year for bathing water quality throughout the South West,’ said Jonathan Ponting for the Environment Agency.

One beach that has seen a progressive improvement is Weston-Super-Mare Main beach in Somerset where the Environment Agency has been working in partnership with the local community, town council and Wessex Water.

In the past, Weston has suffered poor water quality caused by pollution from a variety of sources including urban run-off, misconnections, septic tanks, poorly performing CSOs and even dog and seagull waste.

This led to the £26 million investment at Weston-Super-Mare STW’s storm storage expansion and UV treatment upgrades, which tackled the CSO offshore of Uphill beach and its impact on Main beach.

In September 2011, the Environment Agency identified a leaking sewer pipe across the Uphill Great Rhyne close to where the rhyne enters the river. It was fixed by Wessex Water. Site visits and postal surveys identified several misconnections and sewerage issues in caravan parks and the town itself.

However, there is more that everybody can do at home, at work and when visiting the beach to reduce the pollution that ends up in bathing waters.

‘Taking simple steps such as checking your drainage system to ensure ‘dirty water’ from toilets and washing machines is not being discharged into the clean water system can make a huge difference,’ added Jonathan Ponting.

‘There is no room for complacency. Despite this record breaking year, more needs to be done by water companies, businesses, farmers and local authorities to improve the water quality at our beaches as we prepare for tighter bathing water standards that will be introduced from 2015.’

Malcolm Bell from Visit Cornwall said: ‘We know how people love to come to our beaches
the South West and are proud that all this hard work has led to more bathing waters complying with tough European standards. We’re committed to working together across the partnership but also with volunteers, businesses, farmers and local communities to make sure our beaches continue to thrive.’

Further information about South West bathing waters can be found on the Agency’s website or follow on twitter: @EnvAgencySW

There is also a bathing water App that gives up to date information on bathing water quality.

The Bathing Water results are on the following link:

Anyone wanting to learn more about the Agency’s bathing water monitoring programme can view a sampling video on YouTube at It was filmed at West Bay, Dorset.

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