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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/water-quality-information-at-swimming-beaches-and-lakes-eu-regulations/water-quality-information-at-swimming-beaches-and-lakes
This guidance is for local councils. You must display information at ‘designated bathing waters’.
These are areas:
- where the Secretary of State has designated a site because a large number of people bathe there
- where the Environment Agency tests the water every year
- that are listed in the Bathing Water Regulations
You must provide information during the bathing season, which runs from 15 May to 30 September.
The sign must show:
- the symbol for the current classification
- a general description of the bathing water
- a website address where people can get more information about water quality, for example the data explorer website
You can get the text for the description of the bathing water from the Environment Agency’s signage generator. The generator uses information from the national database of bathing water profiles. You can also access a template for a sign through the individual bathing water profile pages.
You can adapt the text to fit the sign, as long as you include all essential information.
You must display additional information about any ‘abnormal situations’ that affect designated bathing waters, for example a breakdown at a sewage pumping station or a slurry spill.
The Bathing Water Regulations (S.I.2013/1675) describe an “abnormal situation” as “an event or combination of events impacting on bathing water quality at the location concerned and not expected to occur on average more than once every 4 years”.
If pollution counts as an abnormal situation, the Environment Agency will tell you. The Environment Agency will provide information on the nature of the problem and how long it’s expected to last.
If pollution could affect people swimming or paddling, you must display information on the nature of the problem and how long it’s expected to last.
You must display information about how many days bathing the Environment Agency advised against during the last bathing season. You’ll have this information if the council takes part in the Environment Agency’s pollution risk forecasting system.
There’s a classification system for bathing waters. Bathing waters are classified as:
- excellent - download the Adobe Illustrator image for excellent bathing water quality
- good - download the Adobe Illustrator image for good bathing water quality
- sufficient - download the Adobe Illustrator image for sufficient bathing water quality
- poor - download the Adobe Illustrator image for sufficient bathing water quality
If you can’t open Adobe Illustrator files you can download a zip file of the images in PNG format.
Each classification has a symbol that councils must put on their signs. The classifications are based on sampling data taken over 4 years.
‘Poor’ bathing waters
If a bathing water is classified as ‘poor’, you must display an ‘advice against bathing’ symbol. You must also display information on the causes of pollution and measures to clean it up.
The symbols for different bathing water classifications and advising against bathing are below.
Bathing water quality widget
You can use the bathing water quality widget to show up-to-date bathing water quality information on your website.
Contact the Environment Agency
Telephone: 03708 506 506
Minicom: 03702 422 549
Address: National Customer Contact Centre, PO Box 544, Rotherham, S60 1BY
Contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Telephone: 08459 33 55 77
Text phone: 0845 300 1998
Customer Contact Unit
17 Smith Square