A BATHING group has successfully managed to get a section of the River Avon designated as official bathing water. 

After 14 months of campaigning, Fordingbridge Avon Bathers (FAB) has managed to get the river Avon at Fordingbridge Recreation Ground named as official bathing water. 

One of 27 sites announced by DEFRA on May 13, the group hopes its work can highlight local water quality issues and ensure regulators can hold polluters to account. 

Kirsty Davies, community water quality Officer from Surfers Against Sewage, said: “Passionate communities like FAB are leading the way in applying for bathing water status to protect the health of their local waterways, and people’s health.

"We know that inland waterways achieving bathing water designation isn’t a silver bullet to improve water quality but it is a vital next step in our plans to lift the lid on polluters, force regulators to act and end sewage pollution for good.”

The official designation means the Environmental Agency (EA) is now responsible for testing the water quality during bath season. 

If ranked poor, the EA has a responsibility to prevent, reduce or eliminate the causes of pollution and identify the reasons it didn't get a higher classification.

Adam Ellis, director at For the Love of Water (FLOW) CIC, said: “A healthy river needs lots of clean water and good habitat to thrive, and we are seeing significant pressures with population growth and climate change. 

"Getting a site on the lower Hampshire Avon designated means the Environment Agency can increase their current water quality monitoring in the area. As well as being an important recreational resource, the river Avon is home to threatened species such as the Atlantic Salmon, and I hope that this extra scrutiny will help this struggling population."

FAB is made up of Alison Ayling and Louise Tonkin from Fordingbridge Greener Living and Adam Ellis of For the Love of Water (FLOW) CIC. 

Its testing found the River Avon failed to meet minimum standards for bathing water in the bathing season in 2023. 

This data was then shown to Fordingbridge Town Council which in October 2023 formally supported the application for bathing water status at the recreational ground.