In England the Bathing Water Directive is administered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and is implemented by the Environment Agency (EA).

The bathing water season starts from 1st May to the 30th September. Throughout this period the EA sample bathing water quality on a regular basis. Bathing waters must be tested at weekly intervals during bathing water season, with a minimum of 20 samples tested. There are two measurement criteria - a minimum standard, which must be met in order for a bathing area to pass and a higher standard, which member states should strive to achieve.

This process helps classify the quality of the bathing water associated with the beach. The responsibility for displaying public information at a bathing water lies with its 'bathing controller' which on many of the beaches is with East Devon District Council.

More information on bathing water classification and bacterial standards can be found via the Environment Agency website.

A number of designated bathing waters in East Devon receive bathing water notifications, which identify when an event has occurred which could potentially impact on bathing water quality.

When a notification is issued, East Devon works with the EA to put notifications on the beach. As well as being available online, notifications are normally displayed on the main beach electronic information signs located Seaton, Beer, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth beaches.

The purpose of this is to give beach users an informed choice about when and where to bathe.

Reporting a Pollution Incident

Report a pollution incident to the Environment Agency, via their incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

If you can take a photo of the incident, this may prove helpful to identify the cause and type of pollution. The Environment Agency enforce the environmental legislation controlling pollution incidents and co-ordinate the response.