More than half of the UK's beaches have excellent water quality, a report for the Marine Conservation Society has found.
The Good Beach Guide, released yesterday, shows a slight improvement in water quality on last year. The number of sites failing the bathing water tests fell from 66 in the previous guide to 41 this time.
However, the Society added that water quality has deteriorated since its peak four years ago, when it recommended a record 505 beaches, and that about one in seven beaches – including tourist hotspots such as Rock in Cornwall and Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire – are likely to fail tougher new EU standards being introduced in 2015.
"Since 2006, water quality has declined due to high volumes of rain carrying storm pollution from the sewer system, farmland and towns and into the sea," said Rachel Wyatt, of the Good Beach Guide.
The rain washes animal waste, fertilisers and rubbish into rivers and to the sea. According to the Met Office, 2007 and 2008 were the wettest summers on record, and levels of rainfall were 42 per cent above average in summer 2009.