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Bathing water quality and beaches in Wales

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Information on bathing water quality,  compliance with the Bathing Water Directive and beach awards in Wales.

Bathing water quality results

In 2016, 102 of the 103 designated bathing waters in Wales met the new stricter European classifications for bathing water quality with:

  • 84 achieving the higher European classification of excellent
  • 13 achieving good classifications
  • 5 achieving sufficient
  • 1 classified as poor

Throughout the summer, Natural Resources Wales collect data on water quality at bathing waters in Wales and you can find compliance ratings (external link) on the Natural Resources Wales’ website.

Welsh Beaches

There are several awards which beaches in Wales can qualify for. These include:

  • Blue Flag
  • Green Coast
  • Seaside Awards.  

For more information on these awards and on beaches in Wales see Keep Wales Tidy (external link).

Bathing Water Regulations 2013

The Bathing Water Regulations 2013 (S.I. 2013/1675) (external link) came into effect on 31 July 2013. These Regulations also require detailed public information to be available on water quality at each designated site.

Bathing Water Directive

The Bathing Water Directives (external link) (2006/7/EC) preserves, protects and improves the quality of the environment and protects human health. It also seeks to improve management practices at all bathing waters and to standardise the information available to all bathers across Europe.

Bathing Water Classifications from 2015

The Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) introduced a classification system with strict water quality standards. These bathing water classifications are either:

  • excellent
  • good
  • sufficient
  • poor.

Every local authority which controls a bathing water must display bathing water classifications provided by Natural Resources Wales.

This must be in the form of a classification symbol and should include advice against bathing, where appropriate. This includes:

  • a general description of the bathing water
  • information on where to find more detailed information about the bathing water
  • Information on abnormal situations and their expected duration.

Bathing waters which only meet the "Poor" classification in 2016, must also display the "advice against bathing" symbol with information on the causes of pollution and mitigation measures being taken.

The symbols that have been agreed for use across all bathing waters (external link) must be added to your signs before the beginning of the 2017 bathing season.

If an identified bathing water does not meet the minimum standards, Natural Resources Wales (external link) investigates the sources of pollution and recommends remedial measures.

Water quality results are reported each year to the European Commission.

We welcome your views on bathing water quality in Wales. Please mail your comments to: water@wales.gsi.gov.uk.