The Department for Food Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has released the 2023 bathing water classifications. Torbay Council welcome the good news that of the 15 registered bathing beaches in Torbay, 11 have retained their ‘Excellent’ status. Of the remaining beaches, two are classed as ‘Good’, one ‘Sufficient’ (Goodrington), with one being unavailable for assessment (Watcombe).
The ratings were awarded by the Environment Agency who closely monitor the quality of bathing water to make sure regulations are being complied with. DEFRA is then legally required to publish the Environment Agency’s annual findings and classifications.
Each year, the Environment Agency takes up to 20 water samples at each of England’s designated bathing waters during the bathing water season between May and September.
A classification for each bathing water area is calculated annually based on samples from the previous four years. These classifications are:
- Excellent – the highest, cleanest water quality
- Good – generally good water quality
- Sufficient – the water meets the minimum standard
- Poor – the water has not met the minimum standard. Work to improve quality at Poor sites are detailed in the site’s profile.
If a bathing water is classified as ‘Poor’, then a sign advising against bathing will be displayed. However, the beach remains open for people to enjoy.
Each water sample is tested for bacteria that indicate whether there is faecal matter in the water. These bacteria are known as faecal indicator organisms or FIOs and the specific ones that samples are tested for are Escherichia coli (or E. coli) and Intestinal enterococci.
These bacteria can come from many sources including sewage, agricultural livestock, wildlife, birds, and road drainage.
Goodrington Beach had received a ‘Good’ rating for the previous two years. Unfortunately, this round of testing has resulted in Goodrington being graded as ‘Sufficient’. Despite dropping a grade, this classification means that the water at Goodrington was still safe to swim in during the bathing period when samples were taken.
Improving the water quality at Goodrington Beach is the Council’s target for the end of 2023 and into next season. Torbay Council will be working closely with the Environment Agency, South West Water and other partner organisations to investigate potential pollution sources. The Council will then take appropriate action to mitigate the identified causes. More information on the water quality at Goodrington is available at Bathing water profile (data.gov.uk)
With all other assessed beaches receiving a ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ rating, the quality of Torbay bathing waters remains high.
Councillor Hayley Tranter, Cabinet Memberfor Adult and Community Services, Public Health and Inequalities, said: “Tor Bay Harbour Authority has a duty of care to the ensure our bathing waters are clean and healthy environments for all to enjoy. The Environment Agency assessment gives a clear indication that most of our beaches have excellent bathing water standards.
“The Harbour Authority team are determined to achieve ‘Excellent’ ratings across all our beaches and will continue to take a partnership approach to achieve this.”
Councillor David Thomas, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “The maintenance of water quality around our stunning coastline is a responsibility that the council has a genuine focus on to safeguard both the natural environment and the health and wellbeing of our communities.
“We welcome the news that the majority of our bathing waters have received good or excellent ratings. We recognise the ‘Sufficient’ rating at Goodrington is a drop from last year’s ‘Good’ rating and will seek to identify and resolve any issues through our Harbour Team and partners.”
Got a news story, blog or press release that you’d like to share or want to advertise with us?