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Research at the Centre for Research in Environment and Health (CREH) at Aberystwyth University informed the implementation of recreational water quality standards, including revision of World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Union (EU) water quality guidelines and the Environment Agency’s (UK-wide) Pollution Risk Forecasting system.



Article 14 of the Bathing Water Directive identified two science evidence requirements for the policy community: (i) additional epidemiological information covering both EU fresh recreational waters and Mediterranean bathing sites, and (ii) the use of viral pathogen enumeration as a regulatory tool for bathing waters. 

£100,000,000 of water company investment had not improved Swansea Bay's 'at-risk' classification, and Cemaes Bay failed EU water quality tests in 2016 and 2017.



CREH at Aberystwyth University developed new risk-assessment methodology for bathing water exposures and implemented this at recreational bathing sites across Wales.

CREH also led two projects: Epibathe, which generated epidemiological evidence from EU Mediterranean and riverine fresh water bathing sites, and Virobathe, which investigated the use of viral pathogen enumeration as a regulatory tool.

As a further step, CREH undertook research to underpin the development of new health risk prediction modelling in the Smart Coasts project, an Aberystwyth University led initiative aiming to maximise the potential of the coastline on both sides of the Irish Sea.



CREH oversaw the implementation of real-time water quality predictive modelling and water management advisory notification in Swansea Bay and Cemaes Bay, Anglesey. Following this, both Swansea Bay and Cemaes Bay passed EU water quality standards.

CREH’s predictive modelling was also adopted by the Environment Agency (EA) and other regulatory agencies to model bathing water microbial dynamics and associated health risk.

CREH at Aberystwyth University influenced the revision of the WHO ‘Guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environments’.


More information

Institution: Aberystwyth University

Researchers: Professor David Kay, Dr Mark Wyer, Dr Carl Stapleton, Dr Lorna Fewtrell, Dr Cheryl Davies

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Improving quality standards for recreational waters with enhanced data collection and real-time modelling. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>