Bathing waters

Find out about the quality of water at England’s beaches and inland waters and signage rules for local councils.

Bathing water quality

Check the quality of bathing water in England and if there’s a problem with pollution.

Information that must be displayed

Local councils must display information at the bathing water to show water quality during the bathing season (15 May to 30 September).

See the bathing water information and signage rules.

Each classification given to bathing waters has a symbol that councils must display.

If you’re a local council you can easily create a sign with the create a bathing water sign tool and other design tools mentioned in the guidance.


Email with any queries.

Reporting on bathing water quality

The Environment Agency closely monitors the quality of bathing water to make sure regulations are being complied with.

Defra is legally required to publish the Environment Agency’s annual findings and classifications.

Bathing waters can be classified as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘poor’.

Designations and de-designations of bathing waters

See which beaches and inland waters have been officially identified (designated) as bathing waters.

You can also find out how to apply for designation of a bathing water, or for an existing bathing water to be de-designated.

Public consultations on designations and de-designations

Open public consultations on designations and de-designations and the outcomes of closed public consultations.

Published 7 May 2014
Last updated 26 February 2024 + show all updates
  1. Added a link to the 'Bathing waters: proposed designation of 27 new bathing waters in England' consultation.

  2. We've added Tunstall Beach and a consultation for 4 new bathing waters to the list of public consultations of designations and de-designations.

  3. We've added Wolvercote Mill Stream and East Cowes Esplanade to the list of public consultations of designations and de-designations.

  4. Added the consultation on the designation of an area of the River Wharfe, Ilkley as a bathing water.

  5. Added the consultation for removing Allonby South from the list of designated bathing waters.

  6. Updated to include link to new signage generator.

  7. Added the 2017 water quality statistics and compliance report.

  8. Added the consultation on removing Instow from the list of designated bathing waters.

  9. Added the consultations for designating 8 bathing waters in Cornwall and Manor Steps beach in Bournemouth.

  10. Added the 2016 bathing water classifications and 2016 statistics.

  11. Added the consultation on proposals to remove Silloth from the list of designated bathing waters.

  12. Added new guide 'Bathing waters: apply for designation or de-designation' to the group 'Designations and de-designations of bathing waters'. Removed most text from the group introductions because they're either communication messages or information that should be in publications. Moved documents so they make more sense in groups, eg created 'bathing waters consultations' group.

  13. Updated the designation/de-designation section of the guide as Newhaven, Staithes and Lyme Regis Church Cliff beach will be removed from the list of designated bathing waters.

  14. Added consultations for designating West Runton, and de-designating Rock.

  15. Updated to include the 2015 classification results for bathing waters.

  16. Updated to include 2015 information and 3 consultations on removing bathing waters from list of designated sites: Newhaven, Lyme Regis Church Cliff Beach and Staithes

  17. Removed the 2014 designations/de-designations and added the 2014 summary report for bathing waters.

  18. Added consultation on designation of Rayrigg Meadow, Windermere.

  19. Added 2014 compliance report and 2014 projected classifications.

  20. Added information about certain beaches being surveyed to determine the number of bathers.

  21. First published.