Water at Bracklesham Bay, West Wittering and Selsey are 'excellent' according to Southern Water

Bathing water quality is 'excellent' according to a recent water quality study.

Bathing waters off beaches across the South East have achieved their 'highest ever ratings' in Defra’s Bathing Water summer sampling regime, Southern Water has said.

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Chichester Harbour: Southern Water fined £90m for untreated sewage discharges

Swimmers are said to enjoy ‘excellent’ water quality at 59 out of the region’s 83 beaches compared with 58 last year. 21 are rated ‘good’, 3 ‘sufficient’ and - for the fourth year running - none are ‘poor', according to Southern Water.

West Wittering beach. SR2005272 Pic Steve Robards

Southern Water has invested more than £32 million on improving bathing waters in the past five years including major programmes in Worthing, Sussex and Shanklin, Isle of Wight.

But just last year the company was fined £90m for dumping untreated sewage in to delicate ecosystems in what was described in court as a ‘shocking and wholesale disregard for the environment'.

Southern Water also hosted a summit looking at reversing damage to Chichester, Langstone and Pagham Harbours.

Barry Woodham, Southern Water’s Bathing Water Manager said: “The trend of improvement has continued again in 2021 thanks to the collaborative approach taken between councils, regulators, charities and Southern Water. 30 years ago only 41 per cent of beaches in the region met the ‘sufficient’ standard.”

He also underlined that bathing water is affected by many factors: “Southern Water has an important role as one of the custodians of the environment.

"There are a diverse range of pollutions which can impact water quality – contaminated rainwater running off roads and agricultural land, wastewater from privately owned treatment works, boats and animals on the beach such as dogs and seabirds all play a part.”

The need for improvement does not stop here. Southern Water is investing £2 billion over the next five years to improve the health of rivers and seas. It has given a commitment to cut 80 per cent of pollution incidents by 2025 and 80 per cent of storm overflows by 2030.