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Bathing water season begins for 2023

Designation provides bathers with up-to-date information on water quality

The bathing water season started yesterday (Monday 15 May) with regular testing of water quality from the Environment Agency now underway at designated bathing sites.

High standards of water quality at swimming locations are important for people’s enjoyment of beaches and other beauty spots in England. Throughout the season, which runs from 15 May until the end of September, the Environment Agency will regularly monitor water quality at bathing waters across the country to give bathers the up-to-date information they need.

The monitoring also means the Environment Agency can assess whether extra action is needed to address water quality at these sites. Dips in water quality can occur due to factors like rainfall, wind and high tides.

Information on all 424 designated bathing water sites and any forecasted drops in water quality will be published on the Swimfo: Find a Bathing Water website. This provides immediate access to information on every bathing water in England, including coastal locations, inland lakes and the newly designated areas at Sykes Lane Bathing Beach and Whitwell Creek at Rutland Water, Firestone Bay in Plymouth, and the River Deben Estuary at Waldringfield.

The Environment Agency works with local authorities to ensure signs at these swimming locations to inform bathers about any possible dips in water quality as a result of rainfall, wind and high tides.

The Environment Agency has driven £2.5 billion of investment and facilitated partnerships to dramatically improve our bathing waters. Last year, 97.1% of bathing waters met the minimum standard of Sufficient, with 92.8% meeting the highest standards of Good and Excellent – the highest since new standards were introduced in 2015. While progress has been made, the Environment Agency continues to work at pace to ensure more people can enjoy cleaner, healthier waters.

Environment Agency Chair Alan Lovell said:

“England’s much loved beaches are an essential part of the Great British summer and many businesses and communities rely on their good health for tourism and trade.

“Our Environment Agency officers are out throughout the summer monitoring the quality of local bathing waters and we can take action if minimum standards aren’t being met. Anyone who wants to go swimming can check the results for free on the Swimfo website.

“Bathing water sites have shown enormous improvements in recent decades following significant investment and hard work. There is still more to be done to ensure cleaner and healthier waters for people to enjoy. This will require a combined effort from water companies, farmers, regulators, councils, local businesses and the general public.”

In the autumn, Defra will publish its classifications – Sufficient, Good, Excellent or Poor – for each designated bathing water site.

To reduce risk from bathing waters, Public Health England and the Environment Agency also offer advice in their ‘ swim healthy ’ guidance which is available to read before making any decision on swimming.

Of course none of this covers our rivers, few of which have been granted bathing water status, so you need to make your own assessment and take whatever risk you consider acceptable.

You can find the full list of designated bathing waters in England here.

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