Water Quality


The main regulator for water pollution is the Environment Agency. Sea water, rivers, streams and lakes are monitored to ensure that the quality of the water meets with required standards laid down in various regulations. 


Bathing sea water quality results  

The bathing season runs from May to September. During this period, six designated bathing waters were sampled on a weekly basis by the Environment Agency. 

Southern Water  have a waste water treatment works (WWTW) at Ford Aerodrome to treat sewage from the district. This involves the transfer of wastewater to the new works via two underground pipelines. These flows are screened and settled before undergoing biological treatment. The treated wastewater is then transferred back to Littlehampton where it is released back into the sea through the existing long sea outfall.

A minimum number of twenty sea water samples are taken by the Environment Agency (EA) every year during the bathing season (May to September) from each designated bathing water to assess the microbiological quality. Each sample is analysed by the EA laboratory and compared against maximum permissible levels for microbiological parameters.

The quality of bathing water is assessed on the presence and quantity of bacteria. The Bathing Waters Directive lists four sets of standards; excellent good, sufficient and poor, which are based on the amount of each bacteria present in a 100 ml water sample. The following table lists the levels of bacteria for each standard:

Levels of bacteria
Annual Classification
Parameter Excellent Quality Good Quality Sufficient
Intestinal enterococci (cfu/100 ml) 100 (95% of the time) 200 (95% of the time) 185 (90% of the time)
Escherichia coli (cfu/100 ml) 250 (95% of the time) 500 (95% of the time) 500 (90% of the time)


Short Term Pollution Risk Forecasts 

Signs have been ereceted at Bognor Reis (Aldwick), Bognor Regis (East), Felpham and Littlehampton Coastguards beaches. The Environment Agency sends the council a report when heavy rain is predicted locally and the council puts up an “advise against bathing” notice overlaid on the sign below. 

The reason why these beaches have been selected is that Environment Agency data shows a link between heavy rain causing reduced water quality at these locations.

By displaying these “advise against bathing” signs, the council can make the public aware when water quality at these beaches may be lower.” 

Water Quality











Seaside Award

The Seaside Awards are presented for beaches which have achieved the Bathing water directive mandatory standards for microbiological parameters, and a further 28 land based criteria. Seaside Awards recognise different types of beach throughout England which achieve the highest standards, but which do not necessarily have their water quality measured.  Further information on these awards is available at Seaside Awards.


Drinking water

Mains water supply

The majority of homes in the district are supplied with drinking water directly from a mains pipe, which is the direct responsibility of the regional water company. In general, the east of the district is supplied by Southern Water Services Ltd and the west by Portsmouth Water Plc. Each company has a duty to ensure that the water supplied is fit for human consumption and meets specific standards. Public water supplies in England are regulated by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). It is responsible for checking that water companies are supplying water that is fit for human consumption and meet the standards set in the Water Quality Regulations. It also investigates complaints from consumers and incidents which affect or could affect drinking water quality.

Private water supply

A private water supply serves premises which are not directly connected to a mains supply, and therefore not regulated by a water company (e.g. Southern Water or Portsmouth Water). Private water supplies are usually sourced by boreholes or wells. The regulations require that Local Authorities monitor private water supplies in their district to ensure the water is wholesome. You can learn more on our Private Water Supplies page.