Setting quality standards for recreational waters 

Aberystwyth University research helps to improve the quality of bathing water

World leading research undertaken at Aberystwyth University by Kay, Fewtrell, Stapleton and Wyer since 1999 at the Centre for Research in Environment and Health (CREH) has led to new health-evidence-based water quality standards implemented throughout the EU and affecting over 24,000 bathing waters.

These standards have provided more rigorously defined, quantitative health-based criteria, and have improved the roll out of environmental policy by incorporating real-time prediction of water quality. Application of the standards on their own, i.e., without the prediction element, would have resulted in the loss of 50% of UK’s ‘Blue Flag’ beach awards. With CREH’s predictive element, however, the UK both keeps its blue flags and has higher standards of health protection. This prediction element is estimated by the UK Government to be worth between £1.4 and £5.3 billion to the UK economy over a period of 25 years following its initial implementation in 2012.

"I would judge the CREH, Aberystwyth …studies together with the parallel predictive modelling… have comprised the single most significant set of published research investigations world-wide guiding WHO policy during the development of the WHO Guidelines"

Former Lead Scientist for the World Health Organisation


Research Aims

  • Extending and deepening research engagement with policy in recreational water quality science
  • Additional epidemiological information covering both EU fresh recreational waters and Mediterranean bathing sites
  • Development of new health risk prediction modelling
  • Improved implementation of Environmental Policy


Useful Links

David Kay - Staff Profile

Aberystwyth University News - Research award for Centre for Research into Environment and Health

Centre for Research into Environment and Health



Professor David Kay
Centre for Research into Environment and Health
Geography and Earth Sciences
Aberystwyth University | +44 (0)1570 42 3565