A new, useful journal article, Forecasting bathing water quality in the UK: A critical review considers what an optimal framework for bathing water forecasting might look like.


Climate change is altering rainfall patterns resulting in increasing variability and intensity of rainfall events worldwide. Increases to short duration, intense rainfall (i.e., convective rainfall), will lead to increases in sewage overflow and run-off from agricultural land. Such events generate spikes in micro-organisms from faeces and manure, especially Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci, that temporarily end up in bathing waters posing serious health risks to bathers.

Forecasting of bathing water quality associated with convective rainfall presents a distinctive forecasting challenge due to high uncertainties associated with predicting the timing, location, and impact of such events. In this article, we review examples of bathing water quality forecasting practices, with a focus on the United Kingdom where convective rainfall in the summer bathing water season is a particular concern, and question whether the current approach is robust in a changing climate.

We discuss potential upgrades in bathing water forecasting and identify the main challenges that must be addressed before an improved framework for bathing water forecasting can be achieved. Although developments in meteorological and hydrological short-range forecasting capabilities are promising, convective rainfall forecasting has significant predictability limits.

We suggest taking full advantage of short-range forecasts to provide sub-daily bathing water forecasts, focusing on targeted bathing water monitoring regimes to improve model accuracy with the ultimate goal of providing improved information and guidance for beach users.

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