Step 5

Undertaking a water user survey at your bathing site

DEFRA/SEPA/NRW/DAERA require you to survey the number of swimmers who use your local bathing site during the bathing season.

This is where your team and network of passionate people will be needed. You’ll need to gather a taskforce to count users to provide evidence that the site is a popular location with bathers. It’s advisable to survey on sunny days when you expect large numbers of people to be bathing.

What you need to do:

Count bathers

DEFRA/SEPA/DAERA/the Welsh Government only require bathers to be counted but it is important to show all water users and those using the land in direct contact to your waterway. You should record swimmers, paddlers and other water users as separate categories. When counting users remember to include both adults and children and count and record these separately. Include bathers, paddlers, swimmers, anglers, kayakers, paddle boarders, dog walkers, people having picnics etc.

Take photos

Take photos of the bathing site for each of the days you are counting as evidence to include in your application.

Record the results

Use our water user survey template to help in recording your results.

Make a rota

If you have multiple people conducting surveys, create a rota to ensure duplicate dates and times are not recorded.

Tips on surveying

Make it obvious to the public what you are doing – wear a hi/low-vis tabard and/or hand out information to the public to ensure it is clear the reason you are counting users.

When taking photos it’s important to get consent from those in the photo which should be taken from a distance to ensure people aren’t recognisable.

Think about the easiest method to count users. Remember to categorise the types of users when you are counting them as you will need to present this in the application. Also consider if the bathing site that you are applying for is located over more than one area that is used by bathers as a survey will need to take place here too.

Survey during the warmest part of the day when it is likely there may be more users. Use local knowledge to find out when swim groups or any other water user groups tend to use the site.

If you are finding it difficult to visit the bathing site in person to count users, ask your community to help*. Do this by creating an online survey using Survey Monkey or Google Forms which can be accessed by displaying a poster with a QR code at the river or lake location. Ensure that the time of the visit is logged to so that there is no double counting. QR codes can be generated using websites such as QR Generator.

Tip: QR codes can be used on posters or flyers to direct people to any online information, such as your Facebook page, petition, website or consultation information.

*Defra require user surveys to be done in person.

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