EA calls for action to improve bathing water quality as testing begins
The Environment Agency (EA) has begun testing England's bathing waters to improve water quality and protect England's £3.6bn seaside tourist economy.
EA water quality sampling teams will be taking a total of 8,400 samples at over 400 bathing sites between now and September.
As the official 2013 bathing season begins, the EA is asking local authorities, homeowners and farmers to do more to improve bathing waters across the country.
Results from last year's testing showed that 93% of England's bathing waters met the current European water quality standards.
However, EA analysis suggests that 10% or around 55 of England's beaches could be at risk of failing new, tighter standards that come into force in 2015.
By 2015, water quality standards are going to be more stringent, which means that for those beaches classed as 'poor', beach controllers will be required to display a sign advising visitors not to swim there.
EA head of bathing waters, Christine Tuckett, said: "The good news is that the vast majority of our beaches pass the current standards and they have seen a huge improvement over the past 20 years. But more needs to be done. Local authorities, water companies, farmers and businesses all have important parts to play in protecting and improving bathing water quality.
"A range of simple measures - from banning dogs from some beaches to making sure that household drains are connected properly - can all add up to a significant improvement in water quality, and help to safeguard the economic benefit that a clean, safe bathing water can bring."
Last week, Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies disputed claims made by UKIP's Deputy Leader that the EU Bathing Water Directive should be scrapped, arguing that millions of holidaymakers would face an increased risk of falling ill.
UKIP MEP for North-west England, Paul Nuttall, attacked the directive, claiming it would cripple tourism.