Essentially, Designated Bathing Water Status (DBWS) is an official way of recognising that a body of water (whether a beach, lake, or river) is a popular site for swimming, paddling, and other water-based activities.
Currently only one river in the UK has DBWS, the River Wharfe in Yorkshire. We're hoping the Avon will join it!
Water quality monitoring
Achieving DBWS means that each year over the "peak bathing season" (May-September), the Environment Agency will test the site for pollutants, including the bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli) and Intestinal enterococci.
Crucially, for any DWBS sites that don't meet regulatory standards, the EA will investigate the sources of pollution to identify remedial measures.
What are the benefits?
With regular water quality testing of the site at Conham, residents and visitors who enjoy the river ― whether to swim, kayak, boat, paddle, or fish ― will be able to do so safely and make informed decisions.
The local wildlife will benefit too! Rivers are diverse habitats housing an array of species, including otters, swans, herons, voles, kingfishers, and riparian shrubs and trees. DBWS is an important step towards improving and protecting their home.
Beyond the environmental benefits, achieving DBWS for Conham could be an asset for Bristol, supporting local businesses as well as regeneration efforts.
Success Story: River Wharfe
In 2020, the River Wharfe at Ilkley was the first river in the UK to be given Designated Bathing Water Status.