Designated Bathing Areas

Copy of email wording from the Environment Agency with regard to Designated Bathing Waters.

Over the winter of 2034-24 the EA in conjunction with Local authorities, private owners and South West Water undertook a review of all of the Bathing water areas in the South west. This was a national project directed by DEFRA and delivered by the Environment Agency Each bathing water has an area associated with it due to the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) sensitive area requirements. These UWWTD sensitive areas are reviewed every 4 years but there has never been a full review of the associated bathing waters so this was long overdue.

The primary reason for this review is the introduction of the Environment Act storm overflow reduction plan. This refers to making improvements to any discharging water company assets within 1km from the edge of the bathing water area. The review will adjust & move areas to ensure they are representative of where the majority of bathers are. This will include moving the bathing water sampling point to the most used area to ensure sample results are accurate for bather health.

These designated areas are an administrative tool for our records and reference and do not affect where people can or cannot swim – the goal is for them to be accurate and focus bathing to areas that are safe and accessible. Shaldon had a very large and unrepresentative area, that stretched from the river mouth to beyond the bridge, covering “the salty” and running up to Teignmouth port. The area was reduced to a smaller section of Shaldon beach that is used by the majority of bathers.

The regulations cover bathers & swimmers only, paddleboarders, kayakers, surfers etc. are not considered. This was due to accuracy of sample results, proximity to parking & toilet facilities, access points and safety considerations e.g. discouraging swimming in the shipping lane of the river. These changes were agreed by Teignbridge & Shaldon parish council, The EA & SWW.

Although the reduction of the area could mean that some SWW discharges would be outside of the 1km improvement zone, all of the assets affecting Shaldon have already been improved to the required standard and will be monitored to ensure they remain so. This means there are no negative effects on the water quality at Shaldon beach. The sampling point has always been at the river mouth so was only representative of the water quality in its vicinity, we have moved this to its new location in the middle of the bathing area .

Sampling points can be viewed on the Defra website. All historic sample results are published on the beach Swimfo website.

Shaldon remains an excellent bathing water status. Please be assured this was a beneficial exercise and serves to ensure water quality monitoring is accurate, in line with the latest legislation and is representative of where the majority of bathers are. In real terms this does not affect where people can use the water, nor does it reduce the sampling or monitoringAll of this is statutory and will continue and people are free to swim wherever they please.

If there are any further concerns, please direct them to: enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk