Bathing water classifications 2021

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has recently announced that bathing waters in Wales are compliant again for the fourth year in a row.

Working closely with Welsh Government, local authorities and Dwr Cymru - Welsh Water, NRW visited all 105 designated Welsh bathing waters and collected and analysed water quality samples throughout the season.  All met the standards set by the Bathing Water Directive with:

  • 85 achieving the highest classification of excellent
  • 14 achieving good classification
  • 6 classified as sufficient
  • 0 classified as poor

Further information on specific classifications can be accessed here.

Background to Bathing Water classifications

The Bathing Water Directive introduces a comprehensive system of classification with strict water quality standards. This includes monitoring each bathing water for intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli – two types of bacteria which indicate pollution from sewage or livestock which can have impacts on human health causing stomach upsets and diarrhoea if swallowed.

The Directive requires that at least four samples per season are taken. Currently in Wales sixteen samples are taken per season by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) who are responsible for monitoring and sampling designated bathing water in Wales. Bathing waters are classified as either excellent, good, sufficient or poor. 

Positive news story for farming

NFU Cymru National Environment and Land Use Adviser Rachel Lewis-Davies said: “Given the quality of Wales’ bathing waters is susceptible to and at risk of failure of these standards by drainage off farmland the results have to be seen as a positive news story for farming and a reflection of the sustained efforts and good work that is happening on Welsh farms to improve water quality in Wales."


Last edited: 11:11 on 13 December 2021

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