What does it mean to have 27 new swimming sites in the UK?

by Sam Bull

Being based on the River Rother, right by the sea at Rye Harbour, water quality is often front of mind for us here at WiDEYE. We’ve heard of a few cases of friends & family getting ill because of poor water quality. We also hear a lot of people say how they won’t swim in the sea due to the horror stories they’ve heard.

To paint a picture of how serious this is, you might remember that the French recently appealed to the EU over the amount of sewage being discharged into the sea. It isn’t just sewage discharges that cause the issue though, poor land management and over-development can also add faecal fuel into the fire. This applies to the coast, rivers and lakes. 

To give some perspective, a report carried out by the EU in 2020 also placed the UK last out of all European members in terms of water cleanliness. 

Luckily, there is some positive news, so it's not all doom and gloom! 

Before we carry on, we should also say, that this shouldn't deter you from jumping into the sea, since a little bit of bacteria isn’t all bad, but you do need to be aware of spots with particularly bad pollution, something we’ll cover shortly.

Positive news from the environment agency

The latest announcement by the environment agency essentially means that 27 new sites will be actively monitored. Tests look out for two key different types of bacteria (e.coli and intestinal enterococci) - they are used to detect the amount of faecal matter present (not the nices thought). If it’s above a certain level, the area will get a poor rating where swimming isn’t advised.

The main goal of the initiative is to then take action to improve the water quality of designated areas, to help them flourish and also make it safer for people to use.

So what can actually happen if you swim in an area that doesn’t meet the standards?

If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the water, the chances are you’ve probably picked up something at some point. Most commonly you might end up with a little cold, but in more extreme cases where water quality is especially bad, things like e-coli can come into the picture.

Most importantly, it boils down to keeping an eye on the latest reports and doing a little bit of research first before you cruise on down to the beach.

How to keep an eye on water cleanliness

The easiest way by far to keep a tab on things is by downloading the Surfers Against Sewage app, this gives you an update on the latest water quality rating, so you can take your next dip with some peace of mind.

A solid tip is to also be extra careful when there have been long periods of rainfall, this can cause water management systems to overflow, releasing raw sewage into the ocean.


The new designated areas

Here is a list taken from the environment agencies website, if you’d like to see all of them take a look here! Can you spot anywhere near you?!

  • Church Cliff Beach, Lyme Regis
  • Coastguards Beach, Devon
  • Coniston Water, Coniston Browne House, Lake District
  • Coniston Water, Monk Coniston, Lake District
  • Derwent Water, Cumbria
  • Goring Beach, West Sussex
  • Littlehaven Beach, Tyne and Wear
  • Manningtree Beach, Essex
  • River Avon at Fordingbridge, Hampshire
  • River Cam at Sheep's Green, Cambridge
  • River Dart Estuary, Dittisham, Devon
  • River Dart Estuary at Steamer Quay, Totnes, Devon
  • River Dart Estuary at Stoke Gabriel, Devon
  • River Dart Estuary at Warfleet, Dartmouth, Devon
  • River Frome at Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset
  • River Nidd at the Lido Leisure Park, North Yorkshire
  • River Ribble at Edisford Bridge, Lancashire
  • River Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire
  • River Severn at Shrewsbury, Shropshire
  • River Stour at Sudbury, Suffolk
  • River Teme at Ludlow, Shropshire
  • River Tone in French Weir Park, Somerset
  • River Wharfe at Wetherby Riverside, West Yorkshire
  • Rottingdean Beach, East Sussex
  • Wallingford Beach, Oxfordshire
  • Worthing Beach House, West Sussex

Quick guide to wild swimming 

Whilst on one hand it's terrible that our water quality is this bad, we think it's also important to not let this deter people from swimming. Not only is it really beneficial for anyone, but the more that people swim, the more pressure we'll be able to put on water companies and governments to take action. 

Just always remember to check the SAS app and be wary when there has been a lot of rain fall. As long as you follow these two bits of advice, you shouldn't have to worry. 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published