Beachbuoy information

Information about how the map works and the development of the tool.

How to use Beachbuoy

Each of our region’s designated bathing waters or recreational harbours is represented by a location pin.

When you click on the bathing water icon you will see a pop up which will provide further information about the location and whether there’s been a release in the last 72 hours. You can subscribe for email notifications about releases, by selecting the bathing water pin and entering your details.

Clicking on the bathing water icon also highlights the outfalls which relate to that bathing water. The outfall will change colour depending on whether there has been a release from that site in the last 72 hours.

We provide all our current and historical release data in our Beachbuoy release table, which also allows you to filter the data by specific bathing waters or outfalls.

Beachbuoy Working Group and improving the system

We have a Beachbuoy Working Group made up of local authorities, campaign groups, bathing water users and interested stakeholders, which advise us on improvements we need to make to Beachbuoy. Changes to the site are presented to the group for feedback, before changes are made. We’re also surveyed Beachbuoy users to understand what users would like to see and how they wish to use Beachbuoy.

We want to ensure that Beachbuoy provides transparent data, providing the information the public wants in a clear and meaningful way. We’ll continue enhancing the tool and aiming to include all inland storm overflows onto our website by the end of March 2024.

Tidal modelling

Beachbuoy determines the impact a storm release has on a bathing water based on the location of the outfall, the duration of the release and tidal conditions at the time. For instance, if the outfall is 5km out to sea, the release was short and the tidal conditions meant there could be no impact on a bathing water, we leave the bathing water pin blue (the outfall icon will however go red). This information is made clear in the bathing water pop up and details about the release continues to be shown in the Beachbuoy release table.

Our tidal modelling document provides further information.

How we determine the impact of a release

The system automatically flags storm releases on Beachbuoy when our alarms and sensors are triggered, prior to the team being able to review if a genuine event or not. This is to ensure we take a cautious first approach to make the public aware of a potential release at the earliest opportunity. All releases are reviewed and either confirmed as:

Genuine – after review, we can confirm there is/was a release

Genuine non-impacting – after review, we can confirm there is/was a release, but our tidal modelling determined that it isn’t/didn’t impact the bathing water

Non-genuine – We’ve reviewed the event and can confirm this was a false alarm, no release happened at this time. False alarms can happen for several reasons including disruption by wildlife, fault to the senor, manual error or power supply issues

How are releases counted/grouped?

The way in which storm releases are counted is defined by the Environment Agency’s guidance. For bathing waters, we are instructed to use what is called the 12/24 counting method.

The method is as follows:

  1. Start counting when the first release occurs
  2. Any discharge (or discharges) in the first 12-hour block are counted as one spill.
  3. Any releases(s) in the next, and subsequent 24-hour blocks, are each counted as one additional spill per block.
  4. Continue counting until there’s a 24-hour block with no releases.
  5. After 24 hours without a release, you begin again with the 12-hour and 24-hour block spill counting sequence.
Annual storm release data

To see our annual storm release data, please visit our Flow and Spill reporting pages