Chichester Harbour is not a designated bathing water, and much of the Harbour is unsuitable for swimming. Swimmers and parents of young swimmers should follow some basic precautions:

  •   Never dive or jump into water of an unknown depth.
  •   Never dive or jump from any structure.
  •   Never swim near moving boats, boats running their engines or boats which may depart their moorings.
  •   Never swim in the fairway or navigable channels.
  •   Never swim in strong currents and/or tides; these are particularly strong near the Harbour entrance.
  •   Never swim after consuming alcohol or after a meal.
  •   Beware of the cold; hypothermia can kill.
  •   It is not advisable to swim alone.
  •   Always tell someone on the shore where you are swimming and when you expect to return to the shore

Chichester Harbour Conservancy supports the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water. It highlights the risks, helps you avoid them and gives advice to keep you and those around you safe.

Water Quality

Good water quality is essential for the health of the Harbour; particularly for the wildlife that depend on it and the people who enjoy it. Harbour waters are not however in a pristine state and are heavily impacted by human activity. Recognising the imperative of good water quality, the Conservancy has been working for many years to understand the pressures and to strive for improvements. 

Most of the time, Harbour waters do not appear unduly impacted from high levels of bacteria from these sources. However, after heavy rain bacteria levels can increase. To determine how Chichester Harbour is impacted by these inputs, in 2007 the Conservancy joined forces with Chichester District Council to test the water quality at 11 different sites around the Harbour. These are undertaken every two weeks during April to the end of October and monthly in the winter. Although Chichester Harbour is not a designated bathing water, we compare the results with standards from the Bathing Water Directive.

Further information on water quality, and in-depth historical analysis of water quality can be found in our Water Quality section, along with the most recent water sampling results.