30 March 2023

Tory MP: Test bathing waters all year round

30 March 2023

Testing for bathing waters should be extended to cover the whole year, a Tory MP has said.

Currently local authorities must provide water quality information for designated bathing water sites during the bathing season, which runs from May 15 to September 30.

Conservative MP Selaine Saxby (North Devon) raised the issue at a session of questions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the House of Commons.

She said investment had seen a reduction in storm overflows in her constituency “resulting in bathing water quality being rated good or excellent along the coast”.

She added: “However, this is only tested between May and September.

“Will (the minister) consider extending the testing season for the increasing number of all-year-round bathers and surfers, or at least look for waters to be tested after a storm overflow has discharged.”

Environment minister Rebecca Pow responded: “We are using powers in the Environment Act, and under those we require companies to make discharge data available in near real time to the public, if there has been a discharge which would affect water quality, and to monitor water quality upstream and downstream of their assets.

“And this monitoring will actually be all year round, and it will come into force at the end of this year. And all water companies will also have to install new flow monitors on more than 2,000 waste water treatment works.”

Under the current system, each classification given to bathing waters has a symbol that councils must display. The classifications are: excellent, good, sufficient, and poor.

Figures published in November showed just over 97% of England’s designated bathing sites met minimum standards in 2022, which was down slightly on the previous year.

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