A popular site on the river Thames in Oxford is the subject of a bid for bathing water status, Sky News reports. The UK is blessed with many designated bathing water status sites, but these are mostly coastal. If the Thames bid is successful, it would be only the second river in the UK to be deemed of an acceptable standard for swimming water.
A designated bathing site is monitored in accordance with Water Quality standards, and if they are not met to the minimum requirements, the responsible water company is ordered to make improvements. To help swimmers make informed decisions, the water quality is graded as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘poor’, on a yearly basis.
The Thames site, at Wolvercote Mill Stream, Port Meadow, Oxford, is currently subject to a public consultation, The Guardian reports. The campaign group Sewage Free Thames are behind the application, and they say that if successful, it will prevent further sewage spills and improve water quality.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: "Bathing waters in England are a success story, with almost 95% achieving 'good' or 'excellent' status last year.”
She added: “We protect people's health at popular swimming spots across the country by requiring the water quality at those sites to be regularly monitored and improvements made if they don't meet the minimum standard.”
The only other river in the UK with bathing water status is the River Wharfe in the West Yorkshire town of Ilkley. MPs have called for water companies to do more to make rivers in the UK suitable for wild swimming. This would help to raise the water quality across the whole country, improving biodiversity as well as providing safe bathing opportunities.
East Cowes Esplanade on the Isle of Wight's north coast is also up for a public consultation in a bid for bathing water status. Local residents and swimming enthusiasts are encouraged to come forward and make their views known.
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