The beach at Skegness in Lincolnshire kept its Excellent rating in 2018 for the fourth year in a row.

Good Water Quality at Almost All UK Bathing Spots, Testing Shows

During the early 1990s, only 28 percent of bathing waters would have met today's standards, but big improvements have been made to water quality during the past two decades, in part thanks to EA regulations reducing pollution from water companies and industry, as well as the work of local councils and communities.

Water quality at almost all of the 420 bathing spots tested by the UK Environment Agency during May to September 2018 passed. The agency reported Nov. 15 that 97.9 percent of bathing waters passed tough standards when it conducted the testing, noting that the results coincided with a boost to tourism as visitors to the seaside enjoyed England's hottest summer on record.

The results also showed that 92.4 percent of the beaches and inland lakes tested were give the top rating of Excellent or Good. Beaches at Whitby (Yorkshire), Sidmouth Jacobs Ladder (Devon), and Skegness (Lincolnshire) kept their Excellent rating for the fourth year in a row.

During the early 1990s, only 28 percent of bathing waters would have met today's standards, but big improvements have been made to water quality during the past two decades, in part thanks to EA regulations reducing pollution from water companies and industry, as well as the work of local councils and communities.

"This is great news for anyone who enjoys a trip to the seaside. We want everyone to be confident in the quality of our bathing waters, and that's why the Environment Agency carry out regular tests to protect the health of visitors," said Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey. "Britain's beaches are visited around 130 million times each year, generating over £7 billion for the economy. Working together we can all keep driving up standards to reduce pollution, ensuring everyone can continue to enjoy our iconic coastline.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said the agency's "hard work has helped 388 beaches achieve the top Excellent or Good ratings this year, and at beach cleans throughout the summer I've seen the commitment of local communities and campaigners to reduce pollution and protect our environment. Everyone can take small steps to help us protect water quality as we continue work with water companies, councils, and local communities to maintain high bathing water standards."

From May to September, staffers from the agency take up to 20 samples at each designated bathing spot. These are tested in Environment Agency laboratories and the results are published online.

EA asks the public to help keep bathing waters clean by following this advice:

  • Always put litter in the bin at the beach or take it away with you to dispose of at home.
  • Check that your drains at home aren't misconnected, sending dirty water from toilets, showers, and dishwashers into the wrong pipes and into rivers and the sea. Use a ConnectRight accredited plumber.
  • Wet wipes, cotton buds, and sanitary items should go in the trash and not be flushed.
  • Don't pour fats, oils, and grease down the sink. These can pollute rivers and coastal waters and can set hard in pipes, which causes blockages.
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