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England's bathing waters achieve 98% EU water quality compliance rate

Figures released today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that almost 98% of English bathing waters met minimum European Union (EU) water quality standards in 2011.

Close to 98% of England’s bathing waters met the European Commission’s minimum water quality threshold under the Bathing Water Directive in 2011, while nearly 80% met the tightest UK guideline standard.

Some 414 coastal and freshwater bathing water sites were monitored across England in 2011. Results show that improvements have been maintained over the past decade (see table below).

During the past two decades the water industry has invested £2bn to improve bathing water quality and further spending of £220M is planned between now and 2015, Defra said. It said 2011 has seen voluntray trials by water companies and local authorities into providing “real time” warnings to bathers about discharges from combined sewer overflows at 47 beaches.

The nine bathing waters that failed to meet the EU’s minimum standards are Combe Martin and Ilfracombe Capstone (Wildersmouth) in the South West region; Walpole Bay (Margate) in the South East region; and Heysham Half Moon Bay, Blackpool Central, Blackpool South, St Annes, St Annes North and Fleetwood in the North West region.

  % % %
Meeting EU mandatory standards 94.3 97.6 97.8
Meeting EU Guideline standards 53.3 85.7 88.2
Meeting UK Guideline standards 44.4  72.6 79.2

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