BATHING water testing begins today to check if beaches are up to standard.

The Environment Agency bathing water monitoring teams will be at beaches across the South West taking samples every week between May 1 and the end of September.

Lyme’s Church Cliff Beach and Charmouth’s West Beach both failed the reach basic European standards in tests carried out during the same period last year.

The samples taken by the Environment Agency are used to assess the water quality at the beaches and these results will be shared so that people can make choices about whether to bathe or not.

It also helps identify and investigate sources of pollution, so the Environment Agency can work with others to improve bathing water quality.

Between May and September, the agency is monitoring bathing water quality at 193 bathing waters off the coasts of Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset and taking nearly 4,000 samples.

England will have more stringent water quality targets to achieve under the revised Bathing Water Directive in 2015 and the Environment Agency is concentrating on tackling pollution before the targets come into force.

Jonathan Ponting from the agency said: “With only two years to go until our bathing waters need to meet much tougher standards under the new European Bathing Water Directive everyone has a part to play in improving bathing water quality,”

Poor bathing water quality can be caused by a number of sources, including run-off from farms, litter dumped in rivers, and bird fouling in rivers.