Revised Bathing Water Directive

In 2015 our current directive will be repealed and the revised Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) will come into force.


The revised Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) is an updated version of the current Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC).

The revised Directive poses a number of challenges for Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Environment Agency, local authorities and beach operators.

It aims to set more stringent water quality standards and also puts a stronger emphasis on beach management and public information.

The revised Bathing Water Directive entered into force on 24 March 2006. The overall objective of the revised Directive remains the protection of public health whilst bathing, but it also offers an opportunity to improve management practices at bathing waters and to standardise the information provided to bathers across Europe.

Our responsibilities

Within the revised Bathing Water Directive, the main changes that we are responsible for implementing, and communicating, include:

  • Changes to the microbiological parameters measured and a reduction in the general parameters currently monitored.
  • A change from measuring compliance using the pass/fail approach to classification based on four classes: poor/sufficient/good/excellent.
  • The requirement for all bathing waters to be classed as ‘sufficient’ by 2015.
  • The development of bathing water profiles for all bathing waters, and a general description based on the profile to be displayed at the bathing water location.
  • The ability to supply more information so the public can choose where to bathe.


Our timelines for delivery are:

  1. In 2008 we generated our first list of bathing waters under the revised Bathing Water Directive.
  2. In 2011 we published bathing water profiles for all bathing waters.
  3. In May 2012 monitoring began for a four year classification to be in place by 2015.
  4. In 2015 we will publish our first classification of bathing waters under the revised Bathing Water Directive.