The Environment Agency plans to improve the water quality of UK beaches

24th June 2011

The European Environment Agency has mapped the UK's beaches, lakes and rivers to show where the water quality meets the legal requirements to be safe to swim in. Agricultural manure, animal and human sewage and runoff from urban areas are the most common causes of bathing water pollution, according to the environment agency.

Three UK beaches failed to meet the European standard and had to be closed to the public, the beaches were Blackpool North, Newhaven in Sussex and Tywyn in Wales. The overall figures are good - 96.8% of places tested meet or exceed the guidelines.

The Environment Agency recently announced a £4bn investment from the water industry to improve bathing water sites between 2010 and 2015. As part of the work, water companies will have to fit monitoring equipment to over 340 sewer overflow pipes. Combined sewer overflows (CSO's) allow excess water and sewage to be released into the sea or rivers during heavy rain or flooding, which stops sewage backing up onto streets and into homes.

The map can be seen here.

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