Bathing Waters Update (May 2024)

Bathing Waters Update 2024


The 15th of May marked the official start to the bathing water season which will last till September.

There are 451 designated bathing waters across England, and the Environment Agency plays a crucial role in monitoring and assessing the water quality at all these sites.

This year Defra announced new bathing water reforms that will be consulted on. Defra is proposing a number of measures under the reforms:

• Remove automatic de-designation if a site is rated as ‘Poor’ for five years in a row

• Take into consideration existing water quality before designation

• Add future flexibility to the dates and length of the monitored bathing season. They will also look to pause the next round of bathing water applications until spring 2025 and until the new regulations and associated guidelines come into place and allow time for public consultation on the reforms.

To stay updated on the water quality of bathing waters the Environment Agency’s website Swimfo allows people to find out more about the designated bathing waters. Swimfo also includes the Pollution Risk Forecasting (PRF) service that gets updated daily providing information on where a temporary reduction in water quality might be in place due to factors such as the weather or tidal conditions.

Throughout the bathing season the Environment Agency take up to 20 samples at each bathing water and over 7,000 across the country. Last year they found that 96% of bathing waters in England met at least the minimum standard of water quality, and that 90% were classified as ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’.

The UK Health Security Agency and the Environment Agency offer advice in their ‘swim healthy’ guidance which is available to read before making any decision on swimming.


                    Bathing waters in Hastings and Rye:


Designated Bathing Water                         Current Classification

Camber Sands                                                        Good

Winchelsea                                                             Good

Hastings Pelham                                                    Good

St Leonards                                                          Excellent


The Environment Agency said:

 “We will work with local communities; the water industry and other key stakeholders where minimum standards are not being met.

Winchelsea bathing water has deteriorated from Excellent to Good this year. We are working with partners to identify the cause and progress actions to improve bathing water quality in this area.”


The ongoing monitoring by the Environment Agency will help them to determine action needed to address any pollution. They have provided a link to the Event Duration Monitoring (EDM) 2023 data set. The data shows how many times a permitted site has discharged in the past year, and the total number of hours it has discharged for. The data can be accessed at Defra Data Services Platform.

I am campaigning for reform to the Bathing Water Regulations for England, which the Government will be consulting on later this year. The proposed changes will drive work to improve bathing water quality, enhance monitoring and enable more flexibility around the dates of the bathing water monitoring season. Many people across Hastings and Rye swim outside summer months and so proposals will include increasing monitoring outside of the bathing water season and preventing automatic de-designation of existing bathing water sites.