Water Quality

© Chrys Mellor

Water Quality

Not only does our coastline support diverse wildlife, but it is also vital to Yorkshire’s communities, visitors and industries, so it is important that we have clean and productive coastal waters.  

Bathing Water

Many beaches on the Yorkshire coast are designated as bathing beaches and are monitored for their cleanliness each year. 

The Bathing Water Directive sets the standard for bathing water quality and ensures that up to date information is shared with the public.  Under this legislation, bathing waters are classified into four categories – excellent, good, sufficient and poor.

Bathing water quality changes in response to a variety of environmental factors.  Check your local beaches on the Environment Agency’s website here.

The Bathing Water Partnership works to improve Yorkshire’s coastal water quality, helping to protect public health and the environment.  Working together with partners from across the region, the group explores common issues and shares resources to maintain or improve water quality.  Working with the Bathing Water Partnership, Yorkshire Water have invested more than £110 million over the last few years to manage stormwater, upgrade infrastructure and engage with communities.

You might also see Blue Flag and Seaside Awards whilst you’re enjoying time on the beach.  These awards, managed by Keep Britain Tidy, are aimed at improving the quality of England’s coastline and promoting the best beaches.  Find out which Yorkshire beaches have secured these awards on the Keep Britain Tidy website here.

© Jo Symon

Ecological Water Quality

Whilst it’s important to keep inshore waters clean for our own uses, there are many other species and habitats across Yorkshire which also rely on good water quality.  

The Water Framework Directive classifies all waterbodies as high, moderate, good, poor or bad, based on biological, physiochemical and hydromorphological elements.  In essence, this means that waters are monitored for how they function as an ecosystem; the health of species and habitats, chemical composition of the water, and the level of artificial or man-made infrastructure are all taken into account.

The Yorkshire coast is split into two water bodies: Yorkshire North and Yorkshire South.  Both are monitored for chemical and ecological changes, improvements and issues by the Environment Agency.  The latest monitoring data can be found on the Environment Agency’s Data Explorer website.

Water Quality Data Explorer
In-land waterbodies benefit from a catchment based approach (CaBA) to management, this helps to bridge the gap between strategic management and ‘on the ground’ action.  There are three CaBA partnerships within the Yorkshire region, which work to implement water management measures:
Whilst all three CaBA partnership areas include elements of the coast, it is recognised that the expertise required to meet water quality objectives in the marine environment are very different from in-land waters.  Additionally, to secure long-term environmental improvements, coastal waters should be managed as a single ecosystem, rather than individual areas of interest.  Working with the CaBA partnerships, the Environment Agency and other key partners, the YMNP has established a Yorkshire Coast Catchment Partnership to provide specific resource for coastal waters.
Yorkshire Coast Catchment Partnership
© Martin Jones-Gill

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