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Number of English bathing water classed as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ rises again

The number of English bathing waters classified as 'good' or 'excellent' has risen again according to the latest data from the Environment Agency. The new statistics show that a record 94.7% of bathing waters reached this level up from 93.3% in 2019 (there was no classification in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic).

More than 70% (70.7%) received the highest rating of ‘excellent’ while virtually all (99%) passed the Environment Agency’s stringent water quality tests.

More than twice as many coastal bathing waters are classed as ‘excellent’ when compared with the early 1990s when less than a third of bathing waters would have met today’s standards.

A Water UK spokesperson said:

“The outstanding bathing waters we enjoy today, with a record 99% passing water quality tests, are the result of decades of water company investment and different sectors and regulators working towards a common goal. We share the Environment Agency’s view that we must not allow complacency to reverse this positive trend with water companies keen to go further. In a recent report we called for a new ‘Bathing Rivers’ framework to support the creation of inland bathing sites in every region of England.

“This will not happen overnight but with targeted investment, effective regulation and the cooperation of other sectors we believe we can do for inland bathing what we have done for coastal bathing.”

The 2021 results represent the first time a river has been part of the classification with the River Wharfe in Ilkley being designated in 2020. Water UK’s recent 21st Century Rivers report calls for a new ‘Bathing Rivers’ framework for supporting the safe recreational use of inland waters in every region of England.

The full list of bathing water ratings can be found here