The Environment Agency bathing water quality sampling team will be out and about again this summer across the South West.
Between May and September, the agency is monitoring bathing water quality at 191 bathing waters off the coasts of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset beginning on Monday, May 16.
Samples are taken each week at every site throughout the summer months and analysed at the Environment Agency’s laboratory at Starcross, near Exeter, Devon, where they are measured against strict European mandatory and even tighter guideline standards. They are tested for various types of sewage-related bacteria that might indicate a risk to bathers’ health.
The Environment Agency sends the results to the relevant local authorities. It also investigates poor water quality to pinpoint and resolve problems.
Last year, 98 per cent of bathing waters in the region passed mandatory European water quality standards, and 92 per cent of sites met the more stringent ‘guideline’ standard.
The Environment Agency has helped to direct some £8bn of water company investment across England and Wales to upgrade the countries’ sewerage system and reduce pollution in the past two decades, leading to huge improvements in bathing water quality.
However, the more stringent water quality targets to achieve under the revised Bathing Water Directive means there is more work to do to further improve water quality.
The Environment Agency is working hard with others to identify and tackle sources of pollution including those from land, farms and urban areas.
Earlier this year, the Environment Agency published detailed profiles for each designated bathing site in the South West as part of its ongoing commitment to provide even more information on bathing waters to the public.
The new bathing water profiles, online at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/bathingwaters, include maps, photos and links to the latest water quality results for each designated bathing site.
(from a press release)