THE bathing water season started on Monday, with regular testing of water quality from the Environment Agency now underway at 150 designated bathing sites across Devon and Cornwall.

Throughout the season, which runs from 15 May until late September, the Environment Agency will monitor water quality at swimming spots across the country to give bathers up-to-date information. At the end of the season, bathing sites are rated out of three stars.

Beaches monitored in Teignbridge include Teignmouth, Shaldon, Ness Cove, Holcombe, Coryton Cove, Dawlish, Dawlish Warren and Maidencombe.

The bathing season has started amid a rocky year for South West Water, the Westcountry’s water provider. In April, the utility company was fined more than £2 million for a series of environmental offences across Devon and Cornwall, the largest ever fine imposed for environmental offences in the region.

South West Water has also been criticised for its extensive use of sewage discharge points, which release raw sewage into Devon’s waterways during or after heavy rain. Rain over the Coronation weekend triggered the discharge of sewage into Teignbridge’s waterways, affecting Dawlish Town Beach on Saturday, and Teignmouth Holcombe Beach on Saturday and Monday.

According to data from the Environment Agency, Central Devon was the eighth worst for sewage discharges, out of 543 constituencies across England and Wales in 2022, dumping sewage over 4,000 times.

The Newton Abbot constituency was ranked 75, with over 1,500 pollution events.

A South West Water spokesperson has said: ‘After listening to and talking with customers, communities and campaigners right across our region, we announced WaterFit, our plans to protect rivers and seas together.

‘WaterFit will dramatically reduce our use of storm overflows, maintain our region’s excellent bathing water quality standards all year round and reduce and then remove our impact on river water quality by 2030.

‘Working with partners and customers WaterFit will begin to deliver the change we all want to see.’