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Life Experience

Barcombe Mills River Ouse Swimming Update, Water Quality

Thank you to the many people who “liked” or commented on my post on facebook on walking and swimming at Barcombe Mills near Lewes.

There were a couple of people who said they believed that the river was “full of raw sewage”.

I didn’t believe this was possible but I can understand the fear as the River Ouse is in the area of the Southern Water Authority which has just been massively fined for river pollution in Hampshire. So I’ve tried to find the truth about this.

Ouse supplies drinking water
The South East Water Company website points out that 65.000 people in Mid Sussex depend on drinking water drawn from the River Ouse. Obviously the water is treated first. They monitor the quality of the water in the Ouse at 32 catchment points.

Barcombe Reservoir is alongside the Ouse in the area I suggested for swimming.

More info from https://corporate.southeastwater.co.uk/media/3849/river-ouse-catchment-information.pdf

The experience of actual swimmers
The general verdict is that the water quality is fine for swimming though not drinking. Feedback on the Wild Swimming website includes reports from people who have been swimming in this stretch of the Ouse for many years without coming to harm. Link to the Wild Swimming website for more info:


Details of the walk, if you missed it, can be found in my last post, see below.

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David Roberts

Writer, publisher, music promoter

Born in 1942, I now have time to enjoy life more widely and reflect on my experience, interests, and contemporary events.

David Roberts

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