Bathing water quality

Bathing waters are monitored around the island at 19 locations for Escherichia coli (E.coli) and Intestinal Enterococci during the bathing season (1 May to 18 September). The monitoring for E.coli and Intestinal Enterococci are a requirement under the Water Pollution (Bathing Water Standards and Objectives) Scheme 2021 which is the same as the EU 2006 Bathing Water Directive.

Bathing water sampling is undertaken by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture on a weekly basis for designated bathing waters and 4 weekly for non-designated bathing waters. The bathing season is defined as a 20 week period from the 1 May to 18 September. All sampling is carried out in accordance with the Water Pollution (Bathing Water Standards and Objectives) Scheme 2021. The standards included in the scheme are designed for the protection of public health and all data is publish in the specific webpage.

The designated bathing waters which will be sampled on a weekly basis are;

Sampling at the designated bathing waters listed above will occur on the following dates. All data will be uploaded to the associated bathing water profile to be viewed.

DaySampling Date
Wednesday 03 May
Thursday 11 May
Monday 15 May
Tuesday 23 May
Wednesday 31 May
Monday 05 June
Thursday 15 June
Tuesday 20 June
Wednesday 28 June
Thursday 06 July
Wednesday 12 July
Monday 17 July
Tuesday 25 July
Wednesday 02 August
Thursday 10 August
Monday 14 August
Wednesday 23 August
Tuesday 29 August
Thursday 07 September
Monday 11 September

The non-designated bathing which will be sampled on a 4 weekly basis are;

  • Derbyhaven
  • Douglas Broadway
  • Douglas Summerhill
  • Fenella
  • Fishers Hill
  • Laxey
  • Peel
  • Port Grenaugh
  • Port Lewaigue
  • Port Skillion
  • Port Soderick

Please note that the non-designated locations in the list above have not been formally designated under the Water Pollution (Bathing Water Standards and Objectives) Scheme 2021 and therefore bathing water profiles and site specific signs have not been developed.

Sampling at the non-designated bathing waters listed above will occur on the following dates. The data from these samples will be uploaded to the ‘2023 Additional Bathing Water’ webpage. 

DaySampling Date
Thursday 04 May
Thursday 01 June
Monday 26 June
Wednesday 26 July
Monday 21 August
Tuesday 12 September

What can impact bathing water quality?

Bathing water quality can be impacted by any discharge or other release of untreated or only partially treated sewage to sea deposits large numbers of micro-organisms into the sea water, which have a significant influence on bathing water quality on beaches. The same is true of untreated water run-off from intensive land-based animal husbandry. These micro-organisms include bacteria and viruses, some of which can be pathogenic with the potential to cause diseases, skin irritations and gastro-enteritis. The most abundant organisms in sewage are, however, the non-pathogenic coliforms, the detection and quantification of which is the basis of the regular testing of bathing waters.

The Isle of Man's sewage system has been undergoing substantial modernisation in recent years, commencing with the major 'IRIS' scheme which has effectively dealt with human sewage from the southern half of the Island since 2005, and continuing with a programme of smaller treatment works in other locations which in due course should ensure that all sewage is adequately treated. Improvements in bathing water quality have been evident in the regular monitoring data as the modernisation has progressed. It is noted, however, that not all of the beaches in the affected areas meet the best standards all the time. This may be because human sewage is not the only source of bacterial contamination, however also possibly relevant is that any incorrect sewage connections to the surface water drainage system will circumvent sewage treatment, which may be of significance particularly in locations with a substantial volume of older property.

Related to this, the quality of bathing water is widely accepted as being affected by weather, with extended periods of sunny, dry weather yielding better water quality than very wet periods, due to the dual effects of ultraviolet light from the sun killing bacteria coupled with less land run-off entering the sea. 

The location of the sampling beaches, proximity of sewage outfalls and levels of treatment given to the sewage can be seen as follows: 

Sampling LocationNational Grid ReferenceDesignation StatusNearest Sewage OutfallTreatment Level
Bay ny Carrickey SC 2155 6865 Designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Castletown SC 2734 6773 Designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Derbyhaven SC 2866 6734 Non- designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Douglas Broadway SC 3846 7631 Non- designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Douglas Central SC 3884 7685 Designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Douglas Summerhill SC 3925 7720 Non- designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Fenella SC 2414 8444 Non- designated 750m round Island None
Fishers Hill SC 2396 6857 Non- designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Glen Wyllin SC 3095 9063 Designated 900m North East Full
Laxey SC 4421 8356 Non- designated 300m North East None
North Ramsey SC 4528 9498 Designated 900m North Full
Peel SC 2439 8446 Non- designated 250m North East None
Port Erin SC 1942 6897 Designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Port Grenaugh SC 3160 7051 Non- designated None N/A 
Port Skillion SC 3896 7482 Non- designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Port St Mary SC 2120 6817 Designated Transferred to IRIS Full
Port Soderick SC 3473 7267 Non- designated None  N/A
South Ramsey SC 4552 9453 Designated 1600m North Full

For further information, please contact +44 1624 685885 or email environmentalprotection@gov.im