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Number of ‘excellent’ English bathing waters reaches record high

The number of English bathing waters classed as ‘excellent’ has risen again to a record 72.1% (up from 70.7%) according to the latest data from the Environment Agency.

The new statistics show that in 2022, 92.8% bathing water were classified as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ (compared with 94.7% in 2021) while virtually all (97.1%) passed the Environment Agency’s stringent water quality tests.

More than three times as many coastal bathing waters are classed as 'good’ or ‘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 increase in the number of ‘excellent’ beaches is a testament to the ongoing hard work and investment of water companies which has seen the quality of our bathing waters increase significantly in the last decade.

“The slight fall in the overall number of bathing waters passing stringent water quality tests reflect a range of factors, including agricultural run-off. This serves as a reminder that we must not be complacent and that there remains more to be done.

"Water companies are keen to go further and will continue to work with local communities and other sectors to ensure our bathing waters are always clean and healthy for everyone to enjoy.”

Water UK’s 21st Century Rivers report, released last year, calls for a significant expansion in the number of bathing areas and improving how we protect them.

The full list of bathing water ratings can be found here.