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Bathing Water Quality

There are nine designated bathing waters located in the outer estuary, some of which are located directly on the boundary of the study area and some outside. These bathing waters are shown as individual locations on the map below and reflect the Environment Agency’s monitoring points.

Bathing water quality is assessed by standards listed in the EC Bathing Waters Directive. The Directive was adopted by the Council of the European Communities in 1975 and transposed into law for England and Wales to form the Bathing Waters (Classification) Regulations 1991. The Directive is concerned with the quality of bathing waters for the purpose of protecting public health and requires monitoring of microbiological parameters and a small number of physical parameters e.g. visible oil.

Bathing waters of the Outer Thames









There are two types of microbiological standards set out in the Directive, namely the mandatory standards and the more stringent guideline standards. The mandatory standards are:

  • 10,000 total coliforms per 100 ml of water; and
  • 2,000 faecal coliforms per 100 ml of water.

For a bathing water to comply with the Directive, 95% of samples collected within a bathing season (15th May to 30th September) must meet these and the other physical criteria. The guideline standards should be achieved where possible and are:

  • 500 total coliforms per 100 ml of water (in 80% samples);
  • 100 faecal coliforms per 100 ml of water (in 80% samples); and
  • 100 faecal streptococci per 100 ml of water (in 90% samples).

Bathing water quality at each of the bathing waters for the period 2000 to 2005 is illustrated in the table below. Water quality is classified as ‘excellent’, ‘good’ or ‘poor’. ‘Excellent’ relates to the achievement of the more stringent guideline standards and ‘good’ relates to the achievement of the mandatory standards. Bathing waters classified as ‘poor’, fail to meet the Directive’s minimum mandatory standard. The majority of the bathing waters in the area have exhibited either good or excellent quality for at least the last five years. Where designation of the bathing water has occurred within the five years, bathing waters have exhibited either good or excellent quality for at least the last three years.

Bathing Water 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Sheerness E E E E G E
Leysdown G G G E G E
Shoebury East E E E E E E
Southend Thorpe Bay G G E G G G
Southend Jubilee (1) - - - G E E
Southend Three Shells (2) - E E G G E
Southend Westcliff Bay G G E G E E
Southend Chalkwell (1) - - - G G G
Leigh Bell Wharf (1) - - - E G E

Bathing Waters Classifications: E = Excellent, G = Good, P = Poor
(1) - Bathing waters were newly designated in 2002/03.
(2) - Bathing water was newly designated in 2000.


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