Bathing water quality

Find out where bathing water samples are taken, how to report pollution and what the Environment Agency looks for in the samples.

Where samples are taken

The Environment Agency take seawater samples during the summer bathing season (May to September).

The samples are taken at 3 sites along the Brighton & Hove coastline.  

  • Saltdean         (TQ38100180)   
  • Brighton         (TQ32300340)   
  • Hove              (TQ28800430)

Weekly and archive sea water quality results are available on the Environment Agency website.

Pollution incidents and emergencies

If you have reason to believe that bathing water is polluted, you can report it to the Environment Agency by phoning their incident helpline 0800 80 70 60.

Please include the following information:

  • the name and location of the beach
  • the date and time that you saw pollution
  • your contact details so that we can get back to you

Find out more about how to report bathing water pollution from the Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency tests seawater for the following (colonies per 100ml)

Total coliforms - coliforms are bacterial organisms which inhabit the gut of warm blooded animals, but can also be present in vegetation and soils.  While not necessarily harmful themselves, coliforms can indicate the presence of more harmful bacteria and viruses. 

Fecal coliforms - these are specific coliform bacteria found only in the gut of warm-blooded animals. Their presence can indicate waters recently contaminated with sewage. 

Fecal streptococci - also found in the gut of warm blooded animals and an indicater of sewage contamination. High numbers also tend to be present in waters contaminated with agricultural pollution. However, fecal streptococci are not a very good indicator of recent contamination, as they can survive for long periods outside the gut as do many harmful bacteria and viruses.