Welsh bathing waters top destination this summer

A blue flag beach

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease in Wales, and thoughts turn towards enjoying holiday destinations closer to home this summer, visitors to Wales’ beaches can be assured that they have met rigorous quality standards according to the findings of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) report.

For the third consecutive year, the Wales Bathing Water Quality Report 2020 found that there have been no poor classifications of designated bathing waters in Wales, with one additional excellent classification being awarded in 2020 compared with the results in 2019.

The bathing water sampling season usually runs from the 15 May to 30 September and tests all 105 designated bathing waters around Wales on their water quality.

Water samples are taken away, analysed in a specialist laboratory and assessed against a set criteria.

At the end of the season the results will be compiled for each bathing water and used to assess the water as ‘poor’, ‘sufficient’, ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

The report found  all 105 designated Welsh bathing waters met the rigorous Bathing Water Regulations 2013 stringent water quality standards. 84 were found to be excellent standard, 14 achieved a good standard and 7 were classified as the minimum, sufficient, standard. For the third season running no designated bathing waters were classified as poor.

Executive Director of Evidence, Policy and Permitting at Natural Resources Wales, Ceri Davies said:

“Never more so than over the past year have blue spaces and being out in nature been so important for our mental health and wellbeing. Here in Wales we are blessed with beautiful beaches, and those living in the surrounding communities or those visiting for the day naturally want to be assured of the quality of the water before they dip their toes in.
“NRW has an important role to play in ensuring the quality of our bathing waters, sampling the areas for two types of bacteria which indicate pollution from sewage or animals, both of which can have impacts on human health, such as causing stomach upsets and diarrhoea if swallowed.
“The 2020 results are very reassuring and shows that we, together with Dŵr Cymru, Local Authorities, farming organisations and landowners are achieving our goal to protect and enhance our natural resources.”

Due to the impacts of coronavirus on working practices, completing the 2020 programme posed considerable challenges. The monitoring season, which usually runs from May to September was delayed after it was found that the pandemic would impact on the ability to undertake water sampling fully and safely.

Sampling was eventually completed at the end of September  and the findings of the process have been published on the NRW website.

Ceri Davies added:

“The results show how hard we and our partners worked both locally and nationally last year during very challenging times, and the tremendous dedication that our organisations have to an important environmental service.
“Several of Wales’ beaches such as Barafundle and Tenby, are regularly voted Britain’s best with activities such as swimming, surfing, angling and rockpooling being very popular all around the coastline. Our aim now is to ensure that this high standard is maintained, and we’ll continue to work with our partners to achieve this target.”

The Wales Bathing Water Quality Report 2020 is available to view here, Natural Resources Wales / Wales bathing water quality report 2020.

You can also check the bathing water quality of each designated area here:  http://environment.data.gov.uk/wales/bathing-waters/profiles/

If you are planning on visiting some of Wales’ coastlines or inland rivers and lakes this summer, please ensure that you take extra steps to keep yourself  and your family safe around water, by assessing the risks before you enter the water and paying more attention to what’s happening around you.

Find out more on how to have a safe and enjoyable time outdoors at Adventure Smart UK, and follow the advice in the Waterside Code and the Wild Swimming Code – part of the Countryside Code family.