Bathing waters are monitored for sources of pollution known to be a risk to bathers’ health – with up to 20 samples taken from each site during the bathing season.
Each sample is tested for bacteria, specifically E coli and intestinal enterococci.
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Despite progress in recent years, the agency says there is still much more to be done to ensure cleaner and healthier waters for people to enjoy.
It says water companies must do more to reduce pollution incidents and the use of storm overflows, while farmers must do more to prevent manure, fertiliser and soil running off into watercourses.
The general public can also play their part by never putting fats, oils, greases, wet wipes, cotton buds and other “unflushables” down the drain.
The Environment Agency’s area environment manager for the North East, Rachael Caldwell said: "We have fantastic bathing waters in the North East and we’re working hard to protect and improve them.
“The Environment Agency has established a strong partnership approach to improving bathing water quality, because there isn’t usually just one solution.
"We need to consider how different urban, industrial and rural impacts work together and we often have to work a good distance away from a bathing water to improve things.”
She added: “There’s a role for us all as individuals too, to be mindful of what we flush and what we leave on the beach.”
Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd said: “With billions spent on seaside visits every year, we know good water quality helps coastal towns prosper.
"Twenty years of improvements in bathing water took targeted regulation and significant investment. While this is reflected in today’s results we must continue to work together to maintain this trend.
“We cannot afford to be complacent. The polluter must pay. To restore trust, water companies, industry and farmers need to get the basics right or face legal action.