Bathing water quality

In 2022, we were delighted to announce 100% of our coastal bathing waters met the standards, with 99% achieving Good/Excellent water quality classification (in line with the Bathing Water Regulations 2013).

Bathing water quality image

What does the Water Industry mean by 'bathing waters'?

According to The Bathing Water Regulations 2013, a bathing water is identified as a body of water “at which the Secretary of State expects a large number of people to bathe”.

The quality of these waters are closely monitored for harmful bacteria.

How we’re investing in our bathing waters

We’re delivering our largest environmental investment programme for 15 years, including over £330 million in our wastewater network from 2022-25.

Our WaterFit programme sets out our commitments and plans to deliver more for our beautiful South West region.

By 2025, we will be achieving:

per storm overflow, per year
monitoring at storm overflows
river bathing water status
4 star
Environmental Performance Assessment rating
Picture of a storm tank
Some of the things we're doing

Increasing storm storage

At times of high rainfall the water flow into our treatment works currently hits levels well above capacity. So, by increasing storm storage capacity, we plan to reduce the number of times wastewater is discharged straight into water courses (rivers, sea etc) through storm overflows – down to 10 spills per year in any one location by 2050.

More about storm overflows
Picture of works to separate sewers
Some of the things we're doing

Separating combined sewers

To further help control the amount of wastewater ending up at our treatment works, we’re separating surface water (rainwater) from the foul sewerage. The surface water is released into watercourses with minimal treatment, freeing up the treatment works to more efficiently treat foul sewage from homes and businesses.
Picture of a storm. A wave can be seen crashing over a railway track
Some of the things we're doing

Upgrading our sites

In the next few years, we’ll be upgrading, improving, and even relocating some sites to protect them from rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and demand changes.
A few people standing and looking at a river
Some of the things we're doing

Proactive interventions

We’re collaborating with landowners on a wide range of land management solutions which will help keep our rivers healthy.
Nature-based solutions
Picture of ants farming
Some of the things we're doing

Creating green spaces for wildlife

We’re making our sites more wildlife friendly in our ground management techniques and protecting the wildlife like bats, birds and unique plants and insects that already live there.

Our river bathing water pilot

We're running an exciting research project exploring water quality on the River Dart and the River Tavy, with the aim to award the first ever river bathing water status to particular stretches of these beautiful water sources.

Our river bathing water pilot image

Main threats to bathing water quality

We’ve carried out a lot of research into the threats the South West is particularly vulnerable to. The Top 5 threats are:

lady with a yellow hat and binoculars looking out at water
Threat Number 1

Climate change

The South West is particularly vulnerable to climate change, given its 860 miles of coastline. We’ve already seen the impacts with the 2022 Drought, alongside the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the region. But don’t worry. We’re confident that our investment has considered the risk of climate change, and will bring a new level of resilience and lower environmental impact to our operations.
Birds eye view of a crowd of people
Threat Number 2

Population growth

Did you know that since 1989 there’s been a 20% increase in the population in the South West? And over the last 15 years there’s been a 50% increase in tourism. This is increasing the demand on our assets, and in some places, the performance of our assets is being affected. Our new investment plans will increase the resilience of our network to these ever-increasing changes.
Satellite picture of building estate
Threat Number 3

Urban creep

Some areas of the South West have seen incredible growth. This urban creep threatens water quality because it is reducing the amount of land available for water to naturally drain into. This means that more rainwater is entering our sewer network. Installing new surface-water sewers in key areas is a top priority for us, so that we can better manage the volume of wastewater entering our network.
Picture of three pigs
Threat Number 4

Pollution from other sources

Agricultural impacts alone account for 46% of the reasons for poor river health in our region. It’s incredibly important that we work closely with our farming community to improve run-off levels and help implement land management techniques that will help achieve higher quality rivers. Read more about our Upstream Thinking programme to find out how we’re doing it.
Picture of a pile of dirty rags
Threat Number 5

People misusing the sewers

Flushing things that aren’t pee, paper or poo, and pouring fats, oils and grease down the sink block our sewers and can cause sewer flooding and pollution into the water courses. We’re cracking down on this behaviour. Through our Love Your Loo and Think Sink campaigns, we’re bringing more awareness to the responsibility everyone has to keep our rivers and bathing waters healthy.
How to play your part

Your Beach, Your Say, Our Investment

We're inviting local community and stakeholder groups to work with us, as we consider where we need to prioritise our investment for 2025.

Your Beach, Your Say, Our Investment image

In your area

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