The water industry has invested billions since the 1990s on measures that protect the UK’s bathing waters. The latest results from the European Environment Agency show that the UK is close to the top of the list for bathing waters that comply with the EU standards.
The majority of the very big water and sewerage projects that were needed have been completed; now it’s the small but numerous issues that need tackling and can make all the difference to coastal water quality.
Water companies are just one of many agencies with a responsibility to protect bathing waters. Pollution can come from so many various sources that to make a difference, cooperation between local councils, national agencies, businesses and communities is essential.
Causes of pollution include where heavy rain washes pollutants into the sea from roads and pavements; pesticides from farmland and slurry from farm animals.
Our own homes can also be a cause of pollution. Misconnected drains – which is where toilets and other household foul drains have been mistakenly connected to the surface water system – are a big issue and cause untreated waste to flow out to rivers and the sea as if it was rain water.
European bathing water quality in 2013
European Environment Agency Report, May 2014
National campaign to tackle plumbing misconnections