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Water quality - Bathing water - Seawater

See also:

Water quality monitoring - what is it?

The Environment Agency officially monitors seawater quality in Adur and Worthing every week throughout the bathing season which lasts from May until September.

There are four European Union (EU) designated bathing waters within our districts; Southwick, Lancing, Shoreham and Worthing. Their respective sample sites are located south of Carat's Café, near to Lancing Beach Green Café, south of Ferry Road and south of Heene Road (please see the maps in the beach profiles below).

The seawater samples are analysed so the data can be used to classify bathing water quality as either 'Excellent', 'Good', 'Sufficient' or 'Poor'. This is a responsibility under the EU Bathing Waters Directive, which aims to ensure public health is protected and to target areas in need of improvement.

The Environment Agency notifies Adur & Worthing Councils of the results so that Council Officers may update Bathing Water Quality signs every week.

In Adur District these public information signs are located in the car park beside Carats Café, and on the Coastguard Sign at the south of Ferry Road and next to Lancing Beach Green Café.

In Worthing Borough signs are located on the beach opposite Heene Terrace and on the Beach Office notice board.

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What's measured?

From the start of the 2012 bathing season monitoring changed to adhere to stricter EU bathing water quality levels.

The Environment Agency now monitors levels of E.Coli and Intestinal Enterococci. Although not directly harmful, these bacteria can be found in faeces and are indicative of sewage or livestock waste present in seawater.

20 samples are taken throughout each bathing season. The results are received weekly by Adur & Worthing Councils and show the number of bacterial colonies per 100ml of seawater.

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Bathing water quality results

The Environment Agency website contains current and historical sampling results for bathing waters. Please refer to the links below:

See also: Bathing water homepage - on the GOV.UK website

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Southern Water Bathing Water Enhancement Programme

Southern Water customers have identified bathing water quality to be of utmost priority and are willing to pay a little more through their water bills to ensure standards are improved across our region. This has enabled £2.7 million of funding for Worthing as a 'Gold bathing water'. The aim is to enhance Worthing's current classification of 'Sufficient' to 'Excellent' by 30th September 2019. This will be achieved in partnership with Adur & Worthing Councils by encouraging property owners to fix any misconnected waste pipes. These misconnections incorrectly plumb into surface water drains, allowing wastewater to reach bathing water without any treatment.

You can read about Southern Water's proposals for Worthing in their Bathing Water Enhancement Programme document below:

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Short Term Pollution:

Bathing water quality forecast

A Short Term Pollution (STP) scheme was established at the start of the 2014 bathing season by the Environment Agency. They had identified a risk of Lancing Beach Green being classified 'Poor' under the stringent bathing water limits that were to come into force in 2015. STP schemes have been operating throughout each bathing season since - resulting in notable improvements at Lancing Beach Green. This bathing water achieved a 'Good' classification for 2016.

Every day from May to September the Environment Agency forecast the pollution risk and warn when water quality is likely to be reduced at both Lancing and Worthing bathing waters. The public can then make timely and informed decisions on whether to swim or not.

Forecasts are based on the factors that are known to have an effect on water quality, such as heavy rainfall causing increased run-off from agriculture, urban areas or sewage sources.

Environment Agency pollution risk forecasts:

Note: These forecasts are only updated from 1st May to 30th September each year.

  • Lancing, Beach Green prediction:
    12/07/20 8:30am - No warnings in place (Expires: 13/07/20 8:29am)
  • Worthing prediction:
    12/07/20 8:30am - No warnings in place (Expires: 13/07/20 8:29am)

In the event of a risk to bathing water quality the prediction will read:

“Risk of reduced water quality due to heavy rain / potential contamination from sewage”.

Adur & Worthing Councils staff will erect signs at Lancing and Worthing bathing waters that state:

“Swimming not advised today: Risk of reduced water quality”

and display the following warning:

Bathing Water - short term pollution sign

An electronic sign is located on the front of the Beach Office. This will display scrolling text stating

“Risk of reduced water quality due to heavy rain / potential contamination from sewage”.

Ordinarily this will read:

“No water quality warning issued”.

FREE Safer Seas Service App

Surfers against Sewage offer a free App which gives alerts of the Environment Agency's Short Term Pollution warnings for bathing waters of your choice.

If you would like to keep informed of the water quality at Lancing Beach Green and Worthing Beach please download the App from the following website

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Beach profiles

The main sources of pollution that may affect the quality of our bathing waters are illustrated on the maps in the linked PDFs below (based on historical monitoring) along with the full details for these bathing waters, their catchment, information on all potential pollution sources and how they are managed.

Lancing bathing water

Bathing water quality - Good (2 star)

Bathing water quality can be affected by the River Adur and the Teville Stream, particularly after heavy rainfall. There is also a surface water outfall to the eastern side of the beach which operates after heavy rainfall, but is not known to affect bathing water compliance. Lancing Beach can become covered by large amounts of seaweed.

Shoreham Beach bathing water

Bathing water quality - Excellent (3 star)

Shoreham has recently become an European bathing water and is monitored by the Environment Agency from May to September. This bathing water should typically achieve a high water quality standard. Bathing water quality can be affected by the River Adur that enters the sea at Shoreham Harbour, east of the bathing water, particularly after rainfall. Surface water outfalls near Lancing operate after heavy rainfall, but these are not known to affect bathing water compliance. This beach can become covered by large amounts of Seaweed.

Southwick bathing water

Bathing water quality - Excellent (3 star)

Bathing water quality can be affected by the River Adur that enters the sea at Shoreham Harbour, west of the bathing water, particularly after rainfall. A power plant outfall discharges cooling water to the east of the beach and there are a number of other industrial off-shore outfalls along this section of coast. None of these outfalls are known to affect bathing water compliance at Southwick.

Worthing bathing water

Bathing water quality - Sufficient (1 star)

Bathing water quality can be affected by surface water and urban drainage during and after heavy rainfall.

Other areas around the country

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Other information

Is it safe to collect and eat shellfish from Adur and Worthing beaches?

There are no designated shellfisheries around Adur and Worthing and as such no sampling is undertaken to assess the suitability of shellfish for consumption.

River Adur

See the River Adur water sampling page for more information.

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