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Cleaner waters needed to protect outdoor swimmers, parliamentary inquiry is told

Swim England has submitted evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the water quality of the country’s rivers.

In its evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, Swim England raised the importance of clean water to safeguard the health of the many people who enjoy swimming outdoors.

Currently, the health of outdoor swimmers is being threatened by the levels of pollution in our rivers and waterways.

Figures from the Environment Agency report that none of the country’s rivers were in good overall health and only 14 per cent met good ecological status.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “The discharge of raw untreated sewage into rivers places swimmers at greater risk of the potential transmission of viruses.

“Not only does poor water quality threaten the health of swimmers, it also damages our precious waterway environments.

“By improving water quality and encouraging people to be active in and on our rivers and waterways by increasing access to these spaces, people will be even more emotionally invested in protecting these environments.”

Campaign for improvements

Whilst there have been some positive recent developments, Swim England is calling for:

  • greater transparency and more accurate information on the sewage entering all our waterways all year round so swimmers can make informed choices about where to swim
  • an increase in the number of designated bathing waters
  • an increase in the number of bathing waters achieving “good” or “excellent” status.

Jane added: “We are pleased to be part of the #EndSewagePollution coalition and will continue to campaign for improvements in our water quality as we seek to end sewage pollution completely.

“Swimmers who want to enjoy the many benefits of swimming outdoors should be able to do so safely.”