Bathing water quality

There are 31 stretches of the North West coast that are designated 'bathing waters' – see our interactive map for more details.

Monitored by the Environment Agency (EA) during the bathing season, which runs from May to September, these sites have to meet European guidelines on water quality, with the aim of protecting the health of people who may want to swim, surf or just splash and play there.

The original bathing water directive was replaced by more stringent standards in 2015. There are now four designations for water quality – Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Poor.  Beaches with Poor water quality must display a sign advising the public not to bathe there.

We are working closely with organisations including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra), the EA, local authorities, landowners and beach operators to ensure the North West’s waters meet the new standards.

The causes of bathing water pollution are complex and our role is to reduce the amount of sewerage from our pipes which enters the sea during very heavy rainfall, something which the EA estimates is around 30 per cent of the problem.

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