Water testing is halted across England during coronavirus crisis

Water quality testing is halted across England during the coronavirus crisis just as the warm weather causes Britons to flock to beaches and lakes

  • Environment Agency said it could no longer carry out the checks on UK waters
  • But it will still monitor pollution in waters where incidents have taken place
  • A massive 98 per cent of UK coastal waters and lakes were marked safe last year 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Water quality testing on coastal waters and lakes in England has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Environment Agency said it could no longer carry out the checks due to social distancing measures, as thousands flock to beaches to bask in the warm weather.

The change means waters near polluted areas at Clacton in Essex, Scarborough in North Yorkshire, and Tynemouth near Newcastle, among others, will no longer be checked.

The Environment Agency announced the change as thousands begin to flock to UK beaches and rivers due to a relaxation of some coronavirus restrictions

Women are pictured above bathing at Bournemouth beach today as they take advantage of the warm weather

In an advisory notice released on May 15 the EA said it had ‘temporarily paused non-essential work, including sampling… of bathing water’.

‘(This will) help to slow the spread of coronavirus and maintain the ability to provide essential services,’ they added.

The move comes as the covers remain pulled over indoor and outdoor swimming pools, forcing aquatically-minded Britons into the sea and lakes.

Sampling is used to test for bacteria including E. coli, which can cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections and diarrhea.

The EA is required to carry out the health and safety checks under EU law, and usually collects data from May to September.

EA is required to carry out the tests under EU law. Pictured is the Fistral beach in Newquay, Cornwall, on May 13

Where can’t I swim in England? 

The Environment Agency advises against bathing in:

  • St Bees, near Whitehaven
  • Haverigg, Cumbria
  • Burnham Jetty North and Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
  • Combe Martn, Ilfracombe Wildersmouth and Instow, near Exmoor National Park
  •  Clacton Groyne 41, Essex
  • Scarborough South Bay, North Yorkshire
  •  Tynemouth Cullercoats, near Newcastle

Almost all, 98.3 per cent, of the UK’s waters passed the minimum standard for bathing in England last year. 

Of these, 71 per cent were classified as ‘excellent’, and given the highest standard of water quality.

The EA currently has warnings in place on 11 beaches which advise Britons against swimming due to pollution levels.

Despite the measures, the organisation said it would still carry out tests in places where essential incidents have taken place.

It told the New Scientist: ‘All essential incident monitoring will continue without hesitation, but we rightly temporarily paused all non-essential monitoring.’

Thousands headed to the UK’s beaches over the weekend as lockdown restrictions were eased.

Day-trippers took advantage of the soaring temperatures to enjoy the weekend at Durdle Door, Dorset, Ilkley Moor, near Bradford and the Lake District, among other areas.

Updated government advice says people can drive to outdoor spaces ‘irrespective of distance’ and removed the limit on the amount of time Britons can spend outdoors. 

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