With New Standards, Many British Beaches May Be Unfit For Swimming

By on May 27, 2015

Palm Bay, near Margate, Kent. (Credit: James Temperton)

The European Union has issued new thresholds for unacceptable bacterial concentrations in beach water, causing speculation that 25 British beaches may be in jeopardy of being unfit for bathing, according to Wired. The new standards are in line with World Health Organization recommendations.

As a result, Britain’s Environment Agency has tightened its standards for beach water quality this year. The Environment Agency uses 100-milliliter beach water samples to determine bacterial levels, which act as a water quality indicator.

Beach water health in Britain has improved markedly from 1988, going from 65 to 99.5 percent of beaches regarded as acceptable under the old standard. However, now that the EU has raised standards, as many as one in 20 beaches are expected to be unfit for swimmers.

Top image: Palm Bay, near Margate, Kent. (Credit: James Temperton)


  1. Pam

    May 28, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Constructive criticism for the author: As is, this article is not informative at all. Immediate and obvious questions come up: What is the new standard? How does it compare to U.S. EPA (BEACH Act) and other nations’ standards? The linked (WIRED UK) article doesn’t provide this information, but you should — or at least provide a link directly to the primary, technical source, rather than a secondary one.

    • Lori Balster

      May 28, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      Hi Pam,

      There is additional information in the PDF linked to the Wired article, but you are correct, all the information you wanted is not contained in either the Wired article or mine. Either the Wired article or mine should have contained the answers you seek, or links to them…that would have made our articles better. I will try to include such things in future articles.

      Thank you for your comments, Pam, and I hope you will continue to read Environmental Monitor.



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