Beach awards and water quality

Coastal Awards

For 2015, Canterbury City Council has successfully attained the 'Blue Flag' award at Tankerton and the 'Seaside Award' at Herne Bay and Reculver.

The main focus of the awards is to maintain and raise standards along our coastline. Although there are different types of beaches that fly the flag, the award will only be given to beaches that meet criteria such as minimum standards of water quality, have developed facilities (including toilets, lifeguard service and appropriate signage) and an environmental education programme.

Water quality changes

2015 is the first year of a new directive that aims to improve our bathing waters even more. Designated bathing waters in England now have tougher water quality targets to achieve; the new standards are approximately twice as strict.

Other key changes include:

  • official classifications are now only based on four-year rolling averages and are issued annually; weekly classifications are no longer assigned
  • weekly sample readings are available, and may give a general indication of acceptable water quality
  • step changes, where major infrastructure investments result in improved water quality, are listed in the data
  • the water quality overview allows a custom view to be designed which lists the current water quality status in a collection of bathing waters

Present water quality results and bathing water profiles

The Bathing Water profiles provide information about our sites and surrounding areas, including factors that can effect the levels of water quality.  You will also find the latest results;

Herne Bay

Herne Bay Central

Tankerton Bay

West Beach, Whitstable

At Herne Bay and Tankerton, the results are displayed on the lifeguard huts.  At West Beach, Whitstable and Herne Bay, the results are published on signage with in each location.

What is tested?

To ensure that the coast is safe and clean for swimming and other activities, the Environment Agency takes up to twenty water samples at each of England’s designated bathing waters during the bathing water season (between May and September) each year. A classification for each bathing water is calculated annually, based on samples from the previous four years.  

These classifications are, from best to worst:

  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Sufficient
  • Poor

A sample indicates the quality of the water at that specific time, but water quality can fluctuate considerably even over the course of one day. In each sample the Environment Agency test for bacteria that indicate whether there is faecal matter in the water. The bacteria tested for are:

  • Escherichia coli or E. coli (EC)
  • Intestinal enterococci (IE)

When more of these bacteria are present in a bathing water there are greater risks to bathers' health. The standards used are specified in the Bathing Water Directive and are based on World Health Organisation research which recorded the incidence of gastrointestinal disease (stomach upsets) in people bathing in waters of differing bacterial concentrations.