England’s bathing waters record ‘dramatic’ quality improvement

England’s bathing waters have ‘dramatically’ improved since last year, according to figures published by Defra today.

Almost 99 per cent of England’s bathing waters met the minimum European water quality standard, while a record 82 per cent of bathing waters met the tighter guideline standard.

Environment Minister, Dan Rogerson said: “England’s bathing waters have seen record improvements, meeting the highest standard this year and we need to make sure they continue to remain of good quality.

“Having quality bathing water and beaches is not only good for the environment but also boosts tourism and creates a stronger local economy.”

Five bathing water sites failed to meet the required standards.

According to Defra, this was due to the effects of very heavy rainfall with pollution from human and animal sources washed from cities and rural areas into rivers and streams.

Defra said it was working with the Environment Agency to address the problems that can arise from heavy rainfall. The department is also discussing with water companies further investment for the 2015 to 2020 period to ensure that bathing water quality continues to improve.

Lord Chris Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, described the results as “good news” but noted that the revised EU Bathing Water Directive, which will be enforced from 2015, sets much higher water quality standards which are approximately twice as stringent as the current standards.

“The improvement in the quality of UK bathing waters this year is really good news, but with much stricter standards coming into force in 2015, we cannot afford to be complacent. The Environment Agency is working hard with local authorities, businesses and water companies to ensure that bathing waters meet the new standards, and the seaside tourist economy in England continues to thrive,” he said.