Come on in, the water’s lovely…

Campaigners working towards achieving Designated Bathing Water Status for the River Stour in Sudbury want help – mostly from the weather!

Since Defra, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, has issued new rules stipulating that water use surveys must show at least 100 bathers using the river in a single day; it has been so cold and wet that fewer people than usual have ventured into the water. 

“Back in June when we had a nice warm spell, lots of people were playing in the river,” says John Kemp who is co-ordinating the application. “We counted 112 people of all ages in a little over an hour one day and we thought this was going to be easy. The trouble is we need to show two days with more than 100 swimmers and since then Friars’ Meadow has been unusually quiet.” 

Happily, the weather forecast for the coming weekend is looking better so anyone keen to ensure the river remains clean and unpolluted is invited to come and take a quick dip on Sunday 20th August (12 noon-4pm). 

John explains, “The water is quite warm at the moment. I checked the temperature last weekend at 20C which is really quite pleasant. We shall have stewards on Friars’ Meadow from 12 noon to 4pm and hope that anyone who wants to support our efforts will come along and be counted. You won’t even need to get fully wet – a paddle is deemed sufficient.” 

If the bathing water designation is granted by Defra, then the Environment Agency will be required to test the water every week during the bathing season (mid-May to the end of September) and publish the results. This also puts pressure on anyone polluting the river to stop doing so. 

The campaign is supported by most river users including the Rowing Club, the Canoe Club and the Scouts. Anglian Water has also offered its support and anyone wanting to comment can do so by looking for the Sudbury Clean Water Initiative on the Sudbury Town Council and the River Stour Trust websites.  

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