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Our Bathing Water enhancement programme

Work on our innovative programme to improve bathing water quality is well and truly underway.


Latest information

Work on our innovative programme to improve bathing water quality is well and truly underway.

Misconnections surveys, to identify where wastewater pipes are incorrectly connected to the surface water drains, are being carried out across all seven bathing water sites. Right now we are working in:

Deal Castle

  • CT14 9

We'll keep this page updated as the programme of misconnection work moves throughout the seven bathing water sites.

Checking for misconnections is simple, and is being carried out on our behalf by MWH Ltd and surveying experts WERM Ltd. While most of the work will be carried out on public land, surveyors may need to ask permission from local residents to access part of their property to complete the checks. 

We'll work with property owners and the local council's Environmental Health team to find the quickest and easiest way to put right a misconnection when we find one

You can find out more about misconnections here

We are immensely proud to be leading such an innovative project to help protect our region’s stunning coastline. Click here to see how you can do your bit.

The background

Our region boasts more than 700 miles of beautiful coastline – which is the lifeblood of many communities whether through tourism, business or leisure.

Over recent years, we have invested millions of pounds to reduce the impact of our wastewater network on bathing water quality. However, bathing water is also affected by contaminated rainwater running off roads and agricultural land, wastewater from privately-owned treatment works, boats and animals on the beach such as dogs and seabirds.

Our Bathing Water Enhancement Programme, investigates all of these issues and sets out a plan to collaborate with those with the power to fix them.

Our customers have backed the plans and told us they were willing to pay extra through their water bills to fund the improvements. We have earmarked £31.5 million for the programme – approximately £2 per customer over the five years of 2015-20.

The investigations

To select the seven, we undertook a rigorous selection process to shortlist 21 bathing waters from the 83 in our region for further investigation.

We then spent a year carrying out a range of detailed investigations including watercourse sampling, DNA analysis and CCTV surveys of sewers to understand the causes of pollution at each of the shortlisted bathing waters.

Meanwhile, we also held a series of customer focus groups and in total have surveyed more than 3,600 customers and more than 300 businesses to get a better understanding of the views and needs of the communities at each location.

We are producing summaries for each of the 21 which, once finalised, will be published on our website and shared with the relevant local authorities and other organisations. The summaries will give an overview of the issues our investigations uncovered at each bathing water and what could be done to put them right.

The seven bathing waters we have selected are those with the highest degree of certainty of source and solution and are therefore the best fit for intervention.

Their selection has been scrutinised and approved by an independent auditor, the Southern Water Customer Advisory Panel and the Southern Water Board.

The sites

The seven sites are:

We always set out to deliver a further seven bathing waters to Excellent, but we want to do more to protect and enhance our coastline and put the valuable findings from our investigations to good use.

That’s why we have identified a potential for a second stage of work at six of the 14 bathing waters which were not selected. These six have a possibility of attaining the Excellent standard if some interventions are pursued.

We propose to work in partnership with the local authorities at these six and intend to contribute to the required improvements ourselves.

These six are:

  • Sheerness, Tankerton, Herne Bay and Folkestone in Kent
  • Stokes Bay in Hampshire
  • Cowes on the Isle of Wight

While the remaining eight bathing waters will not receive any funding from us, they will still benefit from the detailed investigations which we have carried out that will be publicised in the summaries.

This will allow the relevant local authority or other organisations to put our findings to good use and champion initiatives such as awareness campaigns to help improve bathing water quality, for example discouraging people from feeding seagulls.

These eight are:

  • St Mary’s Bay, Margate Fulsam Rock, Littlestone and Herne Bay Central in Kent
  • Brighton, Felpham and Bognor Regis (Aldwick) in Sussex
  • Hill Head in Hampshire
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