Ilkley River Wharfe is first in England to become bathing site


A river in West Yorkshire is to become the first in England to be designated a bathing site.

A stretch of the River Wharfe in Ilkley will have its pollution levels monitored by the Environment Agency to ensure it is safe for swimming.

The move follows a campaign by local residents who said they had seen “human solid waste” on the river bank.

Becky Malby, from the Ilkley Clean River Group, said she was “absolutely over the moon” at the news.

Ms Malby said the group had been campaigning over pollution levels for over two years after human sewage was seen where people were “picnicking and playing”.

She said she was “delighted” the designated bathing area encompassed the nearby sewage treatment works.

“That is going to have to trigger a major clean-up of the system,” she added.

From 2021, samples will be taken from the popular swimming and paddling spot between May and September.

If bacteria levels are too high then action will be taken to reduce pollution.

Bathing water sites on the coast and on certain lakes have been monitored by the Environment Agency since the 1990s and have seen a significant improvement in water quality.

There are currently 12 inland bathing waters in England – all lakes.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Unfortunately, we all know the water quality won’t change overnight. It will take time and we need farmers and businesses to commit to achieve the necessary improvements.”

The announcement came as Yorkshire Water confirmed a new multi-agency partnership had been formed to improve water quality in the River Wharfe.

It plans to reduce storm overflow discharges by 20% and increase the use of smart tech to predict and prevent pollution incidents.

About the author

Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


Get in touch

Content and images available on this website is supplied by contributors. As such we do not hold or accept liability for the content, views or references used. For any complaints please contact Use of this website signifies your agreement to our terms of use. We do our best to ensure that all information on the Website is accurate. If you find any inaccurate information on the Website please us know by sending an email to and we will correct it, where we agree, as soon as practicable. We do not accept liability for any user-generated or user submitted content – if there are any copyright violations please notify us at – any media used will be removed providing proof of content ownership can be provided. For any DMCA requests under the digital millennium copyright act
Please contact: with the subject DMCA Request.