Swimmers and rowers have taken part in a two-hour relay as part of a campaign to improve water quality.

They swam, rowed and paddled from Felixstowe to Woodbridge in Suffolk to deliver a declaration of a bill of rights for the River Deben.

It was organised by the Save The Deben group which is putting together a bid to gain designated bathing status.

The group said 300 people gathered for the reading of the declaration in Woodbridge, “surpassing expectations”.

Ruth Leach, one of the organisation’s co-founders, said: “There’s been a really positive mood and we’ve been swamped with support, which has been amazing.

“We need 1,500 signatures of support and we had about 350 before the event and probably have got another 300 since.

“We need this support, we can’t do it without it.”

Save the Deben’s application, which is to be submitted in October, comes after recent studies showed levels of E. coli in the river were “way above” government guidelines for bathing water.

The Environment Agency said it monitored E. coli at designated bathing waters, but the River Deben was not a designated site.

Ms Leach, who founded Save the Deben with Liberal Democrat county councillor Caroline Page, said achieving bathing water status would increase the pressure on the water companies to improve water quality in the designated area by investing in and improving current infrastructure.

Currently, the only other two rivers with designated bathing water in the UK are the River Wharfe at Ilkley, West Yorkshire, and Wolvercote Mill at Port Meadow, Oxford.


Woodbridge sits on the River Deben

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