Bathing water status given to Oxford river and sea off East Cowes

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Image source, Google
Image caption,
During the bathing season signs will rate the water quality from excellent to poor at Wolvercote Mill Stream on the River Thames

Two popular swimming spots have received bathing water status.

Wolvercote Mill Stream at Port Meadow, Oxford, and the sea off East Cowes Esplanade on the Isle of Wight will be checked to ensure they are safe for swimming.

Pollution levels will monitored by the Environment Agency between 15 May and 30 September each year.

The Oxford site is the second river in England to receive the status.

'Overjoyed'

Claire Robertson, from Oxford Rivers Project Officer at Thames21, said she was "overjoyed" at the news.

"This stretch of river is a regularly used and treasured place for hundreds of people - families, swimmers, kayakers, rowers, anglers, birdwatchers - and a home for many other creatures, and this is the very least it deserves," she said.

"Let's hope we're the second site of many more."

A stretch of the River Wharfe in Ilkley in West Yorkshire became the first in England to be designated a bathing site in 2020, following a campaign by residents.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
East Cowes Esplanade is a popular swimming and paddling spot on the island

The decision to designate both sites comes following public consultations which ran from 9 February to 2 March.

The Wolvercote Mill Stream consultation received 1,267 responses.

Defra said it was the "largest response to date for a proposed bathing water designation", with 1,260 of respondents in favour of making the site a designated bathing water area.

The East Cowes Esplanade consultation received 132 responses, with 131 of respondents supporting the proposed designation.

During the bathing season, up to 20 samples will be taken from each site. Samples will then be tested for bacteria, specifically E coli and intestinal enterococci.

Isle of Wight and Oxford councils will be responsible for providing public information about water quality at the sites.

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