Could wild swimming on the Avon in Bristol be possible?

Wild swimming has taken the nation by storm in recent years. 

It’s a popular activity in much of the South West – I enjoy wild swimming myself in Exmouth when I can – but a group are campaigning for bathing water status on the River Avon. 

Do people swim in the River Avon at the moment? 

River Avon in Autumn

People do actually swim at the River Avon at the moment, but it doesn’t have a Designated Bathing Water Status (DBWS). This means that there is no regulation regarding the cleanliness of the water, and samples from the river have discovered bacteria, including e coli, which can be harmful to humans if ingested. 

Why is the River Avon unclean? 

This adds to a wider conversation about the cleanliness of rivers and open water spaces in general in the UK. 

It’s largely unclean due to the local sewage system, which dates back to the Victorian era and can overflow when it rains heavily. This means that sewage is often expelled into the river. 

What are people campaigning for? 

Wild swimmers are campaigning for a DBWS to be installed at Conham River Park. This means that the environmental agency would need to monitor and create reports about the water’s quality. This would then be available online via a database which swimmers could access. 

Pill near Bristol, on the River Avon

Has it had any success? 

A petition has collected more than 5,000 signatures to give a DBWS application – but Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol, overruled this claiming safety issues. 

However, there is a pilot swimming scheme at Bristol Harbour in the Baltic Wharf area – it’s hoped that this will pave the way for more swimming areas around the city! 

This is all going to be discussed in a new documentary “Rave on for the Avon”, which is about water cleanliness in the country. 

Generally, the consensus seems to be that the sewage problem should be addressed before wild swimming on the Avon becomes a possibility. 

Take a look at my list of the best things to do in Bristol here.Liked this story? To stay updated with this and all my other South West England news, remember to sign up to my newsletter, like my Facebook page and join my Facebook group!

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