A man with swimming cap swimming outdoors, maybe in a river

Applying for designated bathing water status

We often hear from people who want to secure bathing water status for their local river. This page will guide you through the process.

Applying for designated bathing water status can be a long and arduous process—but as campaigners in Ilkley have shown, it is possible. To give you the best chance possible of a successful application, we've gathered some resources below.

Useful links

  • Our Sewage Map can help to bolster your case for the necessity of designated bathing water status
  • The Ilkley Clean River Group were successful in securing bathing water status for England's first river. Their website has lots of useful information about their campaign
  • We are currently creating a database of rivers which are frequently used for amenity. Add yours here. Using this information, we will let water companies and government know that this is where they need to provide better information about pollution risks
  • The Environment Agency Bathing Water Explorer allows you to look up existing bathing waters - though there's not much to see when it comes to rivers!

What we're doing

We've pulled together a list of rivers that you've told us you love to play in. Whether swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing or simply playing in or near the water - here are the sites that you care about.

We share this data with water companies and are asking them to provide real-time warnings of nearby sewage spills and water quality issues. This would give us better live information, similar to what we already have at popular beaches, to help judge when and where it's safest to enter the water.

We also share the data with government to show the demand for more inland river bathing waters. Designation means that polluters have to clean up pollution and the Environment Agency has to monitor and report water quality throughout the summer.

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