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Identification of new bathing waters

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We are responsible for identifying and designating bathing waters in Wales as well as the de-designation of bathing water status.

Bathing waters are important to everyone in Wales. They are valuable for the recreational opportunities they provide to the people of Wales and tourism. They are also a strong indicator of the overall health of Wales’ coastal zones and inland water bodies.

The revised Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) (external link) requires Member States to identify all popular bathing water areas each year. We must also monitor water quality at these bathing waters throughout the bathing season, which in Wales runs from 15 May to 30 September.

The European Bathing Water Directive aims to protect public health and the environment from pollution at bathing waters.

The Directive also encourages the participation of the public in reviewing the list of bathing waters. This is so that it includes all coastal and inland waters that are used by a large number of bathers during the bathing season.

There are currently 104 designated bathing waters in Wales, following the designation of Aberdyfi Rural Beach for the 2016 bathing season.

The application process

We will accept and consider applications for designation and de-designation at any time. Detailed information and evidence of bathers is required in support of applications.

If the evidence supplied does not meet the requirements, it will be returned and the application will be placed on hold. We will write to the applicant to explain what further information we need.

We will put the completed applications and evidence which we receive on our website for a 6 week consultation. We will also write to Natural Resources Wales and the appropriate water company for information about the specific bathing water.

We will make a final decision based on the evidence supplied and consultation responses within 4 weeks of the consultation ending. We will inform the individual applicants of the outcome and we will publish the decision on our website.

Designations made after 31 October 2018 will be considered for inclusion in the 2020 designated bathing water list. This is to ensure that we can fully consider the applications received and Natural Resources Wales can produce the required profiles and plans to monitor and protect the bathing water.

Designated bathing waters

All new and currently designated bathing waters are monitored by Natural Resources Wales from the beginning of each bathing season. More information on Bathing Water Quality and bathing water profiles for Wales can be found on the Natural Resources Wales website (external link).

It is a legal requirement that information about water quality and potential sources of pollution be displayed at designated bathing waters. Local authorities and private operators are responsible for providing this information. From 2015, if a bathing water is classified as ‘poor’ for five consecutive years, ‘permanent advice against bathing’ shall be introduced.

Application form

If you want to put forward an application and supporting evidence for a bathing water to be considered for designation or de-designation or have any questions on the process please contact:

Water Branch
Welsh Government
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ.
Telephone: 03000 255509.

We also welcome any other comments that you may wish to make on designated bathing waters in Wales.