Cornwall’s bathing waters excel

Gylly Beach, Falmouth

For the fourth year running, all of Cornwall’s beaches have passed tough bathing water quality standards, according to figures published by DEFRA , with 85% of beaches in Cornwall receiving the top ‘excellent’ rating. This is the region’s best-ever results under new standards introduced in 2015, which are twice as tough as in previous years.

Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall, welcomed the results: “It’s fantastic to see all 89 of Cornwall’s beaches pass these tougher tests again. This year is the fifth time that the results have been reported against the new higher standards and for the fourth consecutive year 100% of our beaches have made the grade.  Bathing waters are much cleaner and have continually improved since 1990 when just 27% met European water quality standards. This is thanks to massive efforts by Defra, the Environment Agency, water companies, councils, local communities, farmers, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and other environmental organisations.”

The regulations classify bathing waters as excellent, good, sufficient or poor, based on the level of bacteria in the water as monitored by the Environment Agency between May and September. Up to five years of results from 2015 to 2019 are combined to indicate water cleanliness.

Bathing water quality can be affected by many factors including rainwater running off roads and roofs, run-off from agricultural land, water company infrastructure, sewage from privately owned treatment works and septic tanks, boats or even animals such as dogs or seabirds on the beach. This can be made worse by heavy rain just before the test are taken.

To co-ordinate efforts to keep our beaches and bathing waters clean, and to share best practice, a BeachWise coastal community partnership was formed in the South West in 2016.  It aims to promote safe, enjoyable fun on the beach.  For information visit:

 To view the full list of bathing water ratings, visit