AN increase in winter sea swimmers has prompted the government to review ‘how, where and when’ Jersey’s sea water quality is monitored – with some local swimming groups calling for the water quality to be tested all year round.
Jersey’s sea water is currently tested weekly from May to September each year.
Officers from the Natural Environment Department sample the sea water quality in 16 bays around the Island.
However, this ceases during the winter months.
Food and Public Health manager Caroline Maffia explained: ‘Jersey follows the EU Bathing Water Directorate. We’ve extended this to include additional sampling at bays that fall outside the scope of this remit, which are regularly used by Islanders.
‘We are aware of the increase in year-round swimmers and are reviewing how, where and when we sample to reflect this.’
The ‘Bouley Belles’ are a group of year-round sea swimmers who can mostly be found in Bouley Bay, but ‘occasionally venture elsewhere’.
Alison Salisbury Keogh – a primary school teacher, honorary police officer and one of the group’s founding members – said: ‘Some of the group feel that, as we use the bay on a daily basis 12 months of the year, it would be beneficial to have the water tested all year round – especially after heavy rain when the water has run down off the côtils.’
However, Sally Minty-Gravett – a stalwart sea swimmer who has completed eight solo English Channel crossings – said that she had no concerns about Jersey’s water quality, and said that she ‘feels blessed’ to be able to live and swim in the Island.
The most recent sea quality figures – from September 2022 – show that Le Braye, Plémont, La Haule and Beauport were the bays with the best water quality.
The worst quality sea water in the island was at Bonne Nuit, with the levels of intestinal enterococci in the bay categorised as ‘poor’.
This year’s sampling of the sea water quality begins on 15 May 2023.