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Environment Agency - 2012 Official Bathing Season starts 15 May

Testing gets underway to help continue bathing water quality improvements

Swimmers, surfers and holidaymakers will benefit from plans to tackle pollution and further improve water quality at over 500 bathing water sites around England and Wales, the Environment Agency announced today.

As the official bathing season gets underway this week, Environment Agency water quality sampling teams will be out taking weekly samples at every site until September – a total of 30,000 samples.

Improved significantly

Bathing water quality in England and Wales has improved significantly over the past two decades. Last year 492 of 502 bathing waters (98 per cent) passed water quality standards compared to 20 years ago when just three quarters were clean enough to pass the test. An increasing number of England's beaches have also gained Blue Flag awards this year.

However, the Environment Agency says there is still more that needs to be done.

England and Wales will have more stringent water quality targets to achieve under the revised Bathing Water Directive in 2015 and the Environment Agency is concentrating on tackling pollution before the targets come into force.

Environment Agency Head of Bathing Waters, Christine Tuckett, said: 'Bathing water quality is at an all time high but there is more work to do to drive further improvements. We are working hard with water companies, local authorities and farmers to identify and tackle sources of pollution at all bathing sites.

'The official bathing water season starts today and every sample counts. We are concentrating on tackling pollution before more stringent water quality targets come into force in 2015 and we will use the latest technology available to help meet these goals. By using cutting edge equipment and the latest forensic techniques, including DNA testing, we can pinpoint causes of pollution and tackle them.

'Our water quality sampling team will be monitoring bathing water quality at coastal and inland bathing waters throughout the summer months and sharing information on the Environment Agency website to help the public make more informed choices about where and when to bathe.'

Last year, the Environment Agency published
detailed online profiles for every bathing site as part of its ongoing commitment to provide even more information on bathing water to the public. The bathing water profiles have been updated this year and include maps, photos and links to the latest water quality results for each of the country’s designated coastal and inland bathing sites.

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