New plan to improve Worthing’s seawater quality with possibility of national recognition

Worthing seafront

Plan to designate sea next to Beach House Park as bathing water

A section of Worthing’s seafront could be given national recognition, forcing water bosses to do more to keep the sea clean.

Worthing Borough Council plans to ask the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to designate a section of sea next to Beach House Park as a bathing water, if the public supports the idea.

Obtaining approval would mean that the Environment Agency would put plans in place to monitor and protect the water quality there, putting additional pressure on Southern Water to prevent pollution entering the sea.

It would also be a step towards the sea becoming clean enough for Worthing to gain Blue Flag status in the future – the international symbol of excellent water quality.

Worthing council member on improving water quality

Research from Swim England – the national governing body for swimming – suggests four million adults in the UK have improved their mental health by swimming, through significantly reduced anxiety and depression – with outdoor swimming bringing more benefit than indoor.

Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “Our coastline is a treasure for all to enjoy. Understanding the water quality is instrumental to ensuring the sea at Worthing is as clean as it could and ought be.

“Indefensible releases of sewage with harmful bacteria and other pollutants into this environment is completely unacceptable in the 21st Century. Decades of underinvestment in the infrastructure of water utilities, and an Environment Act that doesn’t hold polluting water companies to account, means that the monitoring of these waterways is more important than ever.

“Gaining bathing water designation at Beach House worthiPark will bring new focus and a new commitment to improve our water quality, and I look forward to working with the Environment Agency and Southern Water to make sure this is achieved.”

Areas designated as bathing waters

In Worthing, there is currently only one designated bathing water, south of Heene Terrace, which means this is the only part of the borough where the Environment Agency tests the water quality to determine whether bacteria found in sewage is present. In contrast, Southwick, Shoreham Beach and Lancing all have designated bathing waters.

Areas with designated bathing waters must display information about water quality and sources of pollution during the bathing season, from May to September.

The Council must demonstrate to Defra that the sea off the stretch of beach from York Road to The Esplanade is well used by bathers, paddlers and water sports users such as paddle boarders. The Council must also be able to show there is public support for designation as bathing water.

Public consultation on bathing water plans

Volunteers have been assisting in the effort to collect the data needed. Members of Worthing Sea Sploshers and students from St Oscar Romero Catholic School have been recording the number of people using the sea at this location.

In addition, the Council has launched a four-week consultation to encourage people to have their say on the plans by visiting

If the public supports the plan, the Council will seek to apply for designation in October, with the aim being to gain the status in time for the 2023 bathing season.


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