British beaches were given a boost last week as a European report showed they are among the cleanest in Europe.
And as families flock to the seaside this jubilee weekend, they can take advantage of a host of different ways to check how clean the water is to help them decide where and when to swim.
Bathing water quality in England and Wales has improved significantly over the past two decades. Last year 492 of 502 bathing waters (98 per cent) passed water quality standards compared to 20 years ago when just three quarters were clean enough to pass the test. Even more of England's beaches have also gained Blue Flag awards this year. However, the Environment Agency is pushing for more improvements.
Last year, the Environment Agency published detailed online profiles for every bathing water as part of its ongoing commitment to provide even more information on bathing water to the public. This year, as a result of its work to share data with other organisations, there are even more ways to check out your chosen beach.
Beach Selecta - free smart phone app
Today sees the official launch of Beach Selecta, a free smart phone app which provides beach goers with up-to-date information on the quality of bathing water of over 500 beaches in England and Wales. The app, available to download through the App store on iTunes, uses a linked data feed provided by the Environment Agency to regularly update users with the quality of the bathing water at a particular beach.
Created by engineering consultancy, Arup, the new app will allow beach goers to either search for beaches closest to their location using GPS, or search by beach location in England and Wales and view the latest bathing water quality ratings.
Environment Agency Head of Bathing Waters, Christine Tuckett, said: 'Bathing water quality is at an all time high but we are doing more to drive further improvements. We are working hard with water companies, local authorities and farmers to identify and tackle sources of pollution at all bathing sites.
'Our water quality sampling team will be monitoring water quality at coastal and inland bathing waters throughout the summer months and we are making the results available in new ways, to help the public make more informed choices about where and when to bathe.
'This new app is a great example of how data feeds provided by the Environment Agency can be used by other organisations and turned into useful products, presenting data in a user-friendly format.'
Justin Abbott, Director at Arup said: 'The Beach Selecta App exemplifies Arup’s ability to creatively explore how organisations can share and communicate data more effectively.'
The Environment Agency is also publishing the latest water quality results online on their new Bathing Water Data Explorer. This includes photos and maps of bathing waters and water quality results for each of the country’s designated coastal and inland bathing sites.