Skip to content
Child on beach

News item

Bathing water letter to the Guardian

In response to a misleading article about the standard of UK bathing water in comparison to other European countries, Water UK sent the letter below to the Guardian newspaper.


Your article UK ranked last in Europe for bathing water quality in 2020 (1 June 2021) is misleading and paints a distorted picture of bathing water quality in this country. The UK’s position in the European Environment Agency’s table simply reflects the fact that the Environment Agency did not collect data from 70% of UK sites last year due to Covid restrictions, rather than the quality of the water.

In reality, UK bathing water quality is a significant success story with a record 93% of English bathing waters classified as either Good or Excellent in 2019 – the last time a full set of data was available. Water companies are committed to going even further with a record £5billion being spent on environmental improvements between 2020 and 2025. Even more progress could be made with Government intervention to tackle the remaining, harder sources of bathing water pollution like slurry from fields and dog mess.

Christine McGourty

Chief Executive, Water UK

Separately Defra press office published a blog, quoting Water UK, responding to the article which can be read here.