South East enjoys best results for five years.
Results announced by Defra today show bathing water in the South East continues to be among the best in the country.
The results for 2017 are based on four years of weekly sample data and are available on the Defra website at 9.30am on Tuesday 14 November:
Of the 83 designated bathing waters across Southern Water's region 53 have achieved 'excellent' status. The breakdown is as follows:
Region-wide – 53 were 'excellent', 25 were 'good', five were 'sufficient'. For the first time in at least five years, there were no 'poor' bathing waters across the region.
Kent – 18 'excellent' bathing waters and nine 'good' and two 'sufficient.' Significantly Walpole Bay in Thanet has achieved 'sufficient' water quality, having been classified as 'poor' since 2012.
Sussex – 14 'excellent' bathing waters, 10 'good' and three 'sufficient'.
Hampshire – 12 'excellent' bathing waters and one 'good'.
Isle of Wight – nine 'excellent' bathing waters and five 'good'.
Paul Kent, Southern Water’s Environment and Wastewater Strategy Manager, said:
"Bathing water quality is affected by a number of issues but we play an important role in helping support local authorities and the Environment Agency to ensure the coastal waters in our region are protected.
"We are thrilled this has been another great year for our region's beaches – they are a vital asset and of huge importance to the people who live and work here.
"If everyone takes small steps to help improve bathing water quality we can all help to protect and enhance the beauty of the beach."
Investment to boost bathing
Southern Water has invested millions of pounds in helping to boost bathing water quality across the region over recent years and works closely with a range of partners, including councils, conservation groups, charities, businesses and key bodies such as the Environment Agency.
This year, the water company also announced the seven bathing waters that will receive additional investment as part of its multi million pound Bathing Water Enhancement Programme.
This innovative project will improve the seven sites to the 'Excellent' classification by 2020. It has seen a team of experts carry out a year of detailed investigations including coastal sampling, microbial (DNA) source tracing and CCTV surveys. Southern Water is working with local authorities, the Environment Agency and other organisations over the next three years to find and fix sources of pollution preventing those seven bathing waters in our region from achieving ‘excellent’ standard.
Key factors found to be affecting water quality across the region include:
Misconnections of wastewater pipes into the surface water – these misconnections can be traced to source by Southern Water and the local council can then work with householders to get the problem put right.
DNA tracing showed contamination from dogs and seabirds was another key issue. Potential remedies include introducing restrictions on the beach during bathing water season and a public awareness campaign around not feeding birds as well as encouraging dog owners to clean up after their pets
Agricultural run-off – solutions include working with key stakeholders, including agricultural landowners.
To find out more about the groundbreaking project, please visit www.southernwater.co.uk/bathingwaterenhancement.
What affects bathing water?
Bathing water can be affected by a range of factors outside of our control, including rainwater running off roads and agricultural land into watercourses and the sea, wastewater from privately-owned treatment works, boats and animals on the beach such as dogs and seabirds.
That's why we joined forces with the Environment Agency on our Beauty of the Beach campaign to celebrate the coastline and encourage people to play their part in keeping beaches beautiful.
For more information and to view the campaign videos please visit: www.southernwater.co.uk/beautyofthebeach
Notes for editors:
For full results on Defra website:
For further information about bathing water or Southern Water in general, please contact the Media Team by email or on 01903 272230.
Facts and stats:
• Our region boasts 700 miles of coastline and 83 designated bathing waters
• These beaches are one of the South East’s greatest assets and are vital to the local economy
• Bathing waters along our region’s coast have never been cleaner in recent times
• The way bathing water quality is measured is now twice as stringent as before, following the implementation of the revised European Bathing Water Directive in 2015.
*The Beauty of the Beach film was made with real members of the community with a passion for their beach including Tom Evans from the Environment Agency in Sussex, Dave Melmoth from Joss Bay Surf School in Kent and Vanessa Churchman from the Isle of Wight.