Caring for our waterways is important to help protect the environment but we also see it as vital for our customers wellbeing. That’s why we have committed to having 90% of the population in our region living within an hour’s drive of a bathing site by 2030.

What is bathing water?​
Wild swimming, or outdoor swimming has seen a surge in popularity across our region in recent years, and these coastal areas have been designated as bathing waters sites.


We’re now working alongside community groups to gain a better understanding of leisure uses of inland waterways and to help assess levels of risks to bathers. Our catchment teams are identifying factors that potentially impact water quality and whether a site can be assessed to become a designated bathing water space. 


Bathing water designation can be a long process which is normally applied for by the local authority. If the area is private, the landowners must also show support. More information on designation can be found here.

How is it monitored?​
Designated bathing waters are the only places in the UK where bacteria levels in open water are monitored and the data published. Bacteria are the pollutants that pose the greatest risk to swimmers’ health, allowing visitors to make informed choices about where and when to swim.​

To help protect water quality and ensure high standards are maintained, wastewater and stormwater discharges from our network are managed carefully by us. Other factors affect the cleanliness of beaches, bathing waters and rivers, including agricultural and urban run-off. Find out more information on individual bathing waters and their classifications and history on the Environment Agency’s SWIMFO site.

We would always encourage people to contact their local wild swimming group for more specialist advice on inland swimming and the best rivers in our region to enjoy. The Rivers Trust also has useful contacts on their website. 

Working together​
Caring for our coastline is very important to us and we’ve invested over £300million pounds over the last 25 years to help protect it. Along our coastline we work both internally with our own operational teams, and with partner organisations such as the Environment Agency and local authorities, to investigate and rectify risks to coastal water quality.​

As well as working to identify pollution sources, we’ve invested in our RiverCare volunteer cleaning initiative. These volunteer groups take ownership of their waterways - protecting, enhancing and conserving our valuable water habitats for the future​. There are 45 groups across our region meeting regularly to carry out cleans on their local rivers and more will be added over the coming years. Our common goal is to improve the rivers across the region. For more information and to get involved, visit RiverCare and BeachCare.​