An Oxfordshire MP says the new bathing status granted for Wallingford Beach will help ensure the River Thames is 'safe and healthy' for people to enjoy. 

Oxfordshire swimmers and government officials alike have welcomed the announcement that Wallingford Beach has been designated as a bathing site. 

The local site will become the second bathing site on the River Thames meaning the Environment Agency will be monitoring the water quality more closely for safety. 

A spokesperson for waterways charity Thames21 said they were delighted with the news and called it "great news not only for the health of swimmers but for health rivers across the country". 

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Sarah Thornley, Thames21 catchment partnership development officer,  praised the "incredible team of citizen scientists" who helped achieve this result. 

"It’s great news for the community at Wallingford who will be able to make more informed choices about safe use of the river, and we hope it will lead to improvements to water quality at the site and upstream," Ms Thornley said. 

"Its great news, not only for the many swimmers who enjoy the site, but also the many other river users and wildlife, all of which deserve healthy rivers."

Thames21 submitted the application to become a designated bathing site in October 2023, with support from the community, local councils and partners.

"The designation means the swimming spot will be monitored for harmful bacteria weekly, and a yearly overall bathing water status (based on standards set in the Bathing Water Regulations) will be displayed onsite," a spokesperson said. 

"It also puts pressure on Thames Water to investigate and make improvements to reduce water pollution affecting Wallingford Beach."

Thames21 citizen scientists used user surveys to prove the popularity of the site, and tested the river each week revealing a poor overall status for bathing water quality - with levels of E.coli around 3.6 times the 2022 level. 

The team hope, being a designated bathing site will allow those enjoying the river to do so without fearing for their health. 

David Johnston, MP for Wantage and Didcot, said: “I am delighted that Wallingford Beach has officially been designated as a bathing water site by the Government.

"This is something that residents have long been calling for and the Water Minister has rightly recognised the strong show of local support.

"Bathing Water status means that the Environment Agency will regularly monitor the water quality at Wallingford Beach during the bathing season.

"This will help to ensure our rivers are safe and healthy and comes after decisive action by the Government to tackle sewage pollution that I have strongly supported."

Wallingford Town Councillor Steve Holder spoke out about the bathing status on Facebook, and said: "Exciting News!

"Wallingford beach on the River Thames has been designated as a bathing water site by Defra, joining 27 others across the country and the second site on the Thames!

"But remember, water status doesn't guarantee cleanliness.

"It will be monitored more closely, so you can make informed choices about enjoying the Thames safely. Let's keep our rivers clean for everyone's enjoyment."