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Formby has the highest classification for bathing waters in the borough

Ahead of the summer months, Sefton Council can officially announce that all the designated bathing waters in the borough have met the higher water quality standards.

Bathing water season runs from May 15 – September 30 and is when the Environment Agency tests the water each week for levels of bacteria.

Below is some handy information to help you understand bathing water classifications:

• Sefton’s bathing water quality classifications against the stricter standards:

  • Formby is excellent: the highest classification

  • Southport and Ainsdale are classified as good

Note: Crosby is not a designated bathing beach in respect of the bathing water regulations and the water quality is not monitored.

• The bathing beaches on the Sefton Coast have all improved considerably over the last 20 years due to the considerable investment from United Utilities. A new approach to monitoring water quality over a four year average and more recent investment at Preston on the River Ribble should see further improvements at Southport and Ainsdale.

An RNLI Lifeguard patrolled bathing zone is in place at Ainsdale May to Sept and at Lifeboat Road, Formby during the school holidays.

• Sefton Council is a member of the Turning Tides Partnership and supports the award winning LOVEmyBEACH campaign working with businesses, communities and farmers to look after seas and lakes.

• Even where it meets the higher standards, water quality can be reduced, particularly after heavy rain and/or high tides – the latter only affecting Ainsdale and Southport, due to high tides washing animal poo off the grazing marshes on the Ribble Estuary. Following heavy rainfall or the higher tides, beaches at Ainsdale and Southport will have temporary signs or information online advising against bathing.

• Work continues to reduce the levels of bacteria in the sea, including from the sewer network and farming during heavy rain, and wrongly connected household drains.

• Please help us have cleaner seas for swimming by following our top ten tips at

How we can all LOVEmyBEACH:

• Blockages in the drains can cause sewers to back up and overflow onto streets or into streams, rivers and the sea. Help avoid blockages by only flushing the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper. Everything else e.g. wet wipes, sanitary products and cotton buds, goes in the bin.

• Cooking oils and fat can also cause drain blockages if poured down the sink as they set hard. Cool kitchen fat first then put it in the bin.

• Check your drains at home aren’t sending dirty water from toilets, showers and dishwashers into the wrong pipes and to rivers and the sea – go to

• At the beach please bag and bin your litter and dog’s mess and don’t feed the birds so they’re less likely to poo in the sea.

• If your house is not on the mains sewerage network, advice on looking after septic tanks and others systems is on

• Check the day’s water quality on the Environment Agency website or download the Safer Seas Service mobile app, which is free and warns you if there’s an occasional problem with water quality.

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