Wales again secured high-quality results in 2023 with 98% of designated bathing waters meeting our stringent environmental standards.
An ‘excellent’ classification is one of the essential criteria for obtaining a Blue Flag accreditation, one of the world’s most recognised voluntary eco-labels.
Two beaches at Tenby North and Aberdyfi have moved up from ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ classifications, making them eligible to apply for the coveted Blue Flag status.
Climate Change Minister, Julie James, said:
“Wales is recognised internationally as having some of the best beaches and water quality in Europe, and high bathing water quality is vital to continue supporting valuable outdoor water recreation opportunities.
“We will continue to work with local communities and water companies to identify what action is needed to meet and exceed the required standards.”
Thanks to collaborative working between Denbighshire County Council, Natural Resources Wales and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, the water quality issues that led to last year’s poor result at Marine Lake were identified and swiftly addressed. This has yielded the desired effects and Marine Lake is now meeting our high standards set for bathing water quality.
Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, said:
“We are entirely committed to protecting and improving the quality of our coastal waters and rivers for people and nature, and each year, a tremendous amount of unseen work takes place to tackle sources of pollution across the country.
“While we celebrate our spectacular coastline and world-class beaches, we know that now is a pivotal time for change, not complacency.
“There is still much work to be done to safeguard our bathing waters. The only way to get our water quality to the state we want is to recognise that everyone has a role to play. We must all raise our game now and strive to achieve the waters we want for ourselves and for future generations.”
Bathing water quality reporting is highly perceptible to climatic changes, in particular, periods of heavy rainfall and with our changing climate, we must be prepared to deal with impacts of longer, heavier bouts of rain on a regular basis.
Wales already receives more rainfall on average than other parts of the UK and this year was no exception.
In July, Wales received 191% of its long-term average rainfall and was followed by 125% during August and September.
Last year, over the same period, Wales experienced the driest seven-month period in 150 years.
It is disappointing that our two newly designated bathing waters received poor classifications. Natural Resources Wales is working with stakeholders to investigate the causes with a view to identifying where improvements can be made.
The Minister added:
“We know that improvements can take time, but even the smallest steps can help to protect and strengthen our water quality in Wales.
“While progress has been made, there is still much more to be done to ensure cleaner and healthier waters for people to enjoy.”