HOT ON the heels of ten Dorset beaches receiving a coveted Blue Flag award comes further good news for tourism chiefs and watersports enthusiasts, that bathing water quality in the county and the beaches of the New Forest is either good or excellent.

Forty Dorset beaches are tested by the Environment Agency.

Durdle Door, Lulworth, Kimmeridge, Swanage, and Studland are all rated as excellent, with every beach from Studland to Bournemouth Pier rated as excellent too.

The town's beach received a 'good' rating - mainly due to the extra pressures the area receives, via surface water and the Bourne Stream.

"Surface water can flow into the Bourne Stream and onto the beach from the surrounding urban area, outfall pipes, and highway drains," the Environment Agency admitted. "This can affect bathing water quality, particularly after periods of rainfall. Heavy rain falling on pavements and roads often flows into surface water drains or highway drains, ending up in local rivers and ultimately the sea. The quality of bathing water may be adversely affected as a result of such events."

It also pointed out that the Bourne Stream enters the sea through a long sea outfall south of Bournemouth Pier. "During heavy rainfall a shorter outfall close to the beach is used," it said. "The Environment Agency have monitored the water quality of the Bourne Stream since 1994. Bathing water quality can be worse when the Bourne Stream discharges via the short outfall."

Rockley Sands and Poole Harbour Lake were also rated excellent.

Boscombe Pier was rated 'good' and then all beaches from Fisherman's Walk to Christchurch were rated excellent.

Christchurch, which missed out on Blue Flag Awards, had six beaches whose water quality was rated as excellent.

Milford-on-Sea was also rated as excellent.

The government says that last year, water quality remained high with 98 per cent of bathing waters in England meeting the tough standards.

The Environment Agency tests water quality at every official bathing water to ensure it is maintained and improved. Beach-goers can check the water quality at their nearest bathing water spot by visiting the Environment Agency’s Bathing Water Data Explorer website to find out how the quality is at their chosen beach and if there are any alerts.

As well as making sure people can make informed choices about where to bathe, this regular monitoring supports ongoing work to maintain and improve water quality, supporting the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

Head of Water Quality at the Environment Agency, Helen Wakeham, said: "Water quality has improved at English beaches over the last two decades giving locals and tourists a better experience as well as benefitting the environment.

"Improving water quality at our beaches is a fantastic achievement and is a testament to the work of Environment Agency staff, water companies, local authorities, farmers, volunteers and NGOs. It shows what energy and commitment can achieve for the environment and people."

Those who want up-to-date information on water quality can find it via the Safer Seas Service app.

All members of the public can help keep water clean by taking all rubbish with them after visits to the beach, not leaving dog mess on the beach and never flushing wet wipes or pouring fats down drains.