Water quality and pollution

Water quality and pollution, Floating Harbour and rivers

Report pollution, get the latest water quality test results and health information.

Report pollution

Floating Harbour
To report oil pollution in Bristol Harbour call 0117 903 1484.

Officer hours: 

  • 26 March to 28 October: 8:30am to 4:30pm
  • 29 October  to 25 March: 10am to 3pm

Contact the Environment Agency on 0800 807 060, if you want to report pollution from oil, sewerage or hazardous waste in a river.

Floating Harbour

Water quality test results
Measure: Escherichia coliforms (counts per 100ml)

Weekly tests, 21 September 2021

  • Baltic Wharf: 1,600
  • St Augustine's Reach: 100
  • Prince Street Bridge: 600
  • Redcliffe Bridge: 800

Monthly tests, 17 August 2021

  • SS Great Britain: 900
  • Castle Tunnels: 1700
  • Bristol Bridge: 1700
  • Netham Lock: 2000
  • Cumberland Basin: 290

Swimming is not allowed in the Floating Harbour.

Water quality can be affected by heavy rainfall, contamination from further up river, drainage problems or discharges from boats and wildlife.

The water is regularly tested for bacteria at several sample sites (Google map) around Bristol. If E.Coli levels go above 5000 counts per 100ml at the Baltic Wharf site or across all other sites, a warning notice will be displayed on this website and at Baltic Wharf, outside the Harbour Master’s Office. You should avoid using the harbour during this time. Daily testing will be carried out until levels improve.


Local rivers are regularly tested for bacteria at several sample sites (Google map).

Water quality test results
Data showing water quality in rivers around Bristol, from 1995 to present is available on DATA.GOV.UK.

Health information

There are some risks to health from contact with Bristol’s open water. These include stomach, ear, nose and throat infections.

Risks can be reduced by following these simple steps:

  • avoid touching your face, eating, drinking or smoking during water activities
  • wash or shower afterwards
  • avoid any unnecessary contact with the water, especially getting your head wet
  • cover cuts with waterproof dressings
  • wear footwear to protect feet from cuts
  • clean cuts straightaway

Contact your doctor straightaway if you develop diarrhoea, vomiting or flu-like symptoms after contact with open water.

Contact information

Sustainability Team (Create)

Bristol City Council

PO Box 3399

Bristol, BS1 9NE

Opening Hours


Contact details

Tel: 0117 922 2500