Bathing waters and coastwatch

Beaches along the 560km coastline we serve are of exceptional quality and among the best in Europe.

Protecting water quality

To ensure high standards are maintained and water quality is protected, wastewater and stormwater discharges from our sewerage network and water recycling centres (sewage treatment works) are managed carefully by us.

However, there are a wide range of factors that affect the cleanliness of beaches, bathing waters and rivers, including agricultural and urban run-off.

Coast and rivers watch

Coast and rivers watch is our online overflow notification system which provides near real-time information of when storm overflows (CSOs) have operated at designated bathing waters and other water bodies used regularly for recreation.

Designed with input from local councils, Surfers Against Sewage and the Environment Agency, Coast and rivers watch enables us to report on overflows potentially affecting 27 designated bathing waters.

A further 21 designated bathing waters are not affected by CSOs and these are clearly identified. Additionally, the system reports on overflows potentially affecting 13 other recreational waters. Our storm overflows section provides more information on overflows and what we are doing to reduce them.

The Environment Agency provides warnings of periods of wet weather that may lead to lower water quality at selected bathing waters.

See current warnings

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investment to improve approximately 600 storm overflows since 2000

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investment in storm overflows from to 2025

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of coastline in our region including the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site

Working in partnership

We recognise that the quality of our recreational waters is a complex picture, with many contributing factors and stakeholders. Working together with the Environment Agency, councils and local groups is the only way to better understand the impacts on recreational waters from storm overflows and other sources. The changes we can all make and longer-term solutions, will enable us to enjoy our watercourses, coasts and seas.

We have been working with the Litter Free Coast & Sea partnerships in Dorset and Somerset for 10 years on the key issues of interest to local communities. The partnerships include local authorities, the Environment Agency, Catchment Partnerships and other stakeholders who are passionate about the quality of the coast and sea. Activities include developing local beach clean groups, running events for local communities to raise awareness, such as ‘Only Rain Down the Drain’; working with businesses to improve waste practices and reduce litter and education opportunities within schools.

Coast and Rivers Watch Annual Report

Near real-time bathing water notification

This report outlines the work we are doing for our coasts and rivers and outlines our coast and rivers watch service. Our real-time bathing water notification system which reports on when overflows are in use throughout the year.