Council’s beaches all classed as Excellent for third year running

Much hard work has gone into ensuring that East Devon's bathing waters retain their Excellent rating from Defra

East Devon’s bathing waters still meet the highest standards Once again, the bathing waters of all East Devon District Council-owned beaches have been classed as Excellent following stringent testing by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The 2019 bathing water quality results revealed that all six of the district’s beaches received an ‘Excellent’ classification – which is the highest and cleanest class. The classification is based on four years of data so the results mean that our water quality is the best it can be.

The private beach of Sandy Bay attained an Excellent standard, too, while Ladram Bay has made great efforts to improve to the second highest classification which is Good. Ladram Bay, which is a small cove at the bottom of a steep valley, can be vulnerable to short term pollution incidents caused by rain water run-off and achieving the highest standards consistently is more difficult, although on any particular day the water does meet the excellent standards.

The top classification is a goal that the council has aimed for and strived to maintain.  This is a result of a combined effort between the council, the Environment Agency, South West Water and local farmers and land owners. Everyone has worked together to reduce the potential for dirty water to enter East Devon’s rivers and streams, and to inform and educate the public.

The water quality is tested by the Environment Agency every week throughout the summer. The district council’s Environmental Health team is advised of the results, and is responsible for informing members of the public about water quality. This information includes a system of real time predictions of poor quality and the council supports electronic signs near the main entry points at each of its beaches so that people using the water can see whether the water on any particular day is likely to meet the required standards.

Poor water quality has been shown to occur only after heavy rainfall around the East Devon coasts, and most likely on beaches fed by rivers and streams. The standards were tightened in 2015 meaning that the Excellent classification represents only the very best water quality.

John Golding, Strategic Lead for Environment, said: “This is a fantastic result for East Devon and the reward for several years of good joint working with our partners and local landowners. Our beaches are a crown jewel for East Devon and we are proud that the bathing water meets the very highest standards, which will provide water users with opportunities for enjoying our sea safely.”