New figures published by the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) on Nov. 6 show that 93% of England’s beaches and inland bathing waters met the minimum European water quality standard, which is based on Escherichia coli limits. However, only about 60% meet the more stringent standards, which are set to be enforced in 2015 and rely on both E. coli and enterococci limits.

A number of beaches failed to meet the required standards following one of the wettest summers on record. Some waters in England remain vulnerable to the effects of stormwater pollution and combined sewer overflows.

“Having quality bathing water and beaches is not only good for the water environment but also for tourism and local economies,” said Environment Minister Richard Benyon. “Water companies are now planning their next round of investment, and I am determined that improving bathing water quality should be a key focus of these plans.”

In Wales, 88% of bathing waters meet the more stringent standards, while the Anglian region saw 90% compliance. North West England and Scotland saw the lowest levels of compliance with the 2015 guidelines.

Overall, the long term bathing water quality trend has improved, reflecting the major investment of an estimated $3.9 billion (£2.5 billion) by water companies since privatization. Read more.