Thank you for contacting me about the quality of bathing water in the UK.
Water features prominently in the Government’s 25-year environment plan which sets out priorities relating to supply, leakage, demand, consumption and the investment needed in infrastructure. I am aware that in 2019, the Environment Agency sampled 420 bathing waters in England. The Agency found that 98.3 per cent of the designated bathing waters tested met the Bathing Water Regulations’ minimum standard of “sufficient” with 71.4 per cent meeting the highest “excellent” standard.
While it is disappointing that seven bathing waters were classified “poor”, I am encouraged by the action being taken to improve designated bathing waters in England. Over recent years, hundreds of projects have been completed to improve bathing water quality and successfully drive up standards. As well as this, I know that water companies have invested £2.5 billion to reduce pollution, councils and charities have run campaigns to keep beaches clean and advice has been provided to farmers on how to reduce pollution into rivers.
I must emphasise that the remaining “poor” bathing waters all have complex problems that require partnership working across Government and third-party organisations to rectify any issues. I am aware that sources of pollution identified in these instances ranged from sewer misconnections to sea birds, dogs, run-off from urban and agricultural land, as well as sewage from combined sewer overflows and septic tanks. I am pleased that the Environment Agency is working hard with its partners to look for solutions to these problems.
This is indeed an important issue which I will continue to monitor closely on both a national and local level, such as at Pelham Beach in Hastings.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP