Bathing water quality
Bathing water quality in Wales has improved significantly over the past two decades.
It’s our job to work with government, bathing water controllers, local authorities and businesses to maintain and improve bathing water quality in Wales.
How we monitor bathing water quality
There are 109 designated bathing waters in Wales. In 2023 each one will be tested at least 10 times; immediately before and throughout the season from 15 May to 30 September. The results are used to assess compliance with the directive's standards. As 2015 was the first year that the stricter standards set in the revised directive were applied in Wales, our designated bathing waters must now achieve even tougher water quality targets.
What’s the quality of the bathing water near you?
Each bathing water is unique. To help you make an informed decision about where to swim, we have produced a detailed bathing water profile for each bathing water in Wales.
Each bathing water profile includes:
- a description of the beach and surrounding area
- rivers and streams feeding into the site
- details about how we manage pollution at the site
Being in the water at beaches is fun but there are health risks. Health risks may be higher in waters which fail European standards.
Bathing water information for your website
The Bathing Water Widget Designer allows people to customise a live feed of water quality data for a given bathing water site, or all of the sites in a given area, and display that feed onto their website.
What are the top five sources of bathing water pollution?
- Pollution from sewage – bacteria from sewage can enter our waters as a result of system failures or overflows or directly from sewage works
- Water draining from farms and farmland – manure from livestock or poorly stored slurry can wash into rivers and streams resulting in faecal material entering the sea
- Animals and birds on or near beaches – dog, bird and other animal faeces can affect bathing water as they often contain high levels of bacteria (much higher than treated human waste)
- Water draining from populated areas – water draining from urban areas following heavy rain can contain pollution from a variety of sources, including animal and bird faeces
- Domestic sewage – misconnected drains and poorly located and maintained septic tanks can pollute surface water systems
What are the top five things you can do to improve bathing water?
- Check your home or business property is connected to the right drainage system. Wrongly connected plumbing could mean that dirty water from toilets, dishwashers and showers could be going directly into your local river or sea
- If you’re a dog owner, obey the dog exclusion zones on beaches and pick up after your dog
- If your property is connected to a septic tank, make sure it’s registered, check it’s working correctly and keep it maintained
- Don’t drop litter, especially food waste, as it encourages birds
- Get involved with local beach clean-ups. Many local and national organisations run regular beach cleans
The Bathing Waters classifications became an Official Statistic for Natural Resources Wales in 2016.
Each report represents the results of the bathing water monitoring. It discusses situations at individual bathing waters which had an impact on water quality and the improvement actions that can be taken.