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Nearly 98% of bathing waters pass EA quality standards

The Environment Agency has announced that 97.9 per cent of England's bathing waters passed standards following tests this year.

Whitby in Yorkshire was among the areas to retain its Excellent ratingWhitby in Yorkshire was among the areas to retain its Excellent rating

Water quality testing at 420 bathing spots carried out from May to September showed only 2.1 per cent were below acceptable standards.

The results also show that 92.4 per cent of the beaches and inland lakes tested were give the top rating of ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good.’ Beaches at Whitby (Yorkshire), Sidmouth Jacobs Ladder (Devon) and Skegness (Lincolnshire) have all kept their Excellent rating for the fourth year in a row.

In the early 1990s, just 28 per cent of bathing waters would have met today’s standards but dramatic improvements have been made to water quality over the last two decades, in part due to Environment Agency regulation reducing pollution from water companies and industry, and the work of local councils and communities.

"This is great news for anyone who enjoys a trip to the seaside," Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said. "We want everyone to be confident in the quality of our bathing waters and that’s why the Environment Agency carry out regular tests to protect the health of visitors.

"Britain’s beaches are visited around 130 million times each year, generating over £7 billion for the economy. Working together we can all keep driving up standards to reduce pollution, ensuring everyone can continue to enjoy our iconic coastline."

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, added: "Seaside tourism is worth over £7 billion to the economy and good water quality is essential for people to visit and enjoy our beautiful beaches.

"The Environment Agency’s hard work has helped 388 beaches achieve the top Excellent or Good ratings this year and at beach cleans throughout the summer I’ve seen the commitment of local communities and campaigners to reduce pollution and protect our environment.

"Everyone can take small steps to help us protect water quality as we continue work with water companies, councils and local communities to maintain high bathing water standards."

Throughout the bathing water season from May to September, staff from the Environment Agency take up to 20 samples at each designated bathing spot. These are tested in Environment Agency laboratories and the results are published online.

This year, more people than ever visited the EA’s bathing water website, the Bathing Water Data Explorer, which includes a searchable map allowing users to check the water quality at beaches and bathing waters before making a visit.

The website, featuring the latest test results available, was visited 109,400 times – more than double the amount from 2017.

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Policy & Regulation , Drinking water quality
Tags: environment agency , water companies , environment , Bathing water quality

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