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83 Welsh beaches awarded “excellent” water quality rating

83 beaches in Wales were awarded the "excellent" rating
Jackson's Bay was one of seven beaches in Wales to receive the lowest rating, "sufficient". Source: Dave Roberts (via Flickr).

By Sam Portillo | News Editor

This year, government agency Natural Resources Wales have awarded 83 beaches in the country an “excellent” bathing water rating, the same number as in 2019. 

The fieldwork involved five tests at each beach between 22 June and 30 September, providing data to be analysed in a specialist laboratory. In 2015, the standards for bathing water in Wales were raised, meaning beaches must be even cleaner to receive an “excellent” rating. 

In recent years, the fieldwork has begun in May, but was pushed back due to logistical difficulties and safety concerns around coronavirus, getting underway a month later instead. 

Clare Pillman, CEO of Natural Resources Wales, explained the significance of the results to WalesOnline. “This year’s results show how hard we and our partners are working both locally and nationally but also the tremendous dedication that our organisations have to an important environmental service,” she said. “We look forward to Wales continuing to work as a team to protect and improve our beaches and the benefits they bring to us.”

According to the agency, there are five main sources of water pollution affecting beaches in Wales: sewage from water overflows or system failures; drainage from farms and agricultural land, which can contain manure if not properly processed; waste from animals at the location such as dogs and birds; drainage from populated areas; domestic sewage.

This year, 83 beaches were given an “excellent” rating, equating to 79 percent of all surveyed, including tourist favourites Southerndown, Saundersfoot and both Tenby North and Tenby South. North Wales hotspot and subject of Phillip Larkin’s poetry Prestatyn also received the best possible rating.

A further 15 beaches (14 percent) received a “good” rating for their quality of bathing water, including Swansea Bay. 

Seven meanwhile received the lowest possible rating, “sufficient”, suggesting that work needs to be done to improve the purity of water. Included in the seven were Jackson’s Bay in Barry Island and Abergele, near the location of this year’s I’m a Celebrity set, Gwrych Castle.

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