Anglian Water will take samples from River Deben in Woodbridge and River Waveney in Bungay in a bid to give them the East of England's first bathing water designation
Two rivers in Suffolk will undergo tests for water quality in a bid to turn them into East Anglia's first official inland wild swimming hotspots.
Anglian Water will be taking water samples from The River Deben in Woodbridge, the River Cam in Cambridge, and the River Waveney in Bungay, and analyse their biological, physical and chemical characteristics.
It will work with campaign groups to ensure the three sites, which are already used by the public for wild swimming and watersports, are given bathing water designation, which can help protect them.
The company wants ensure most people in the East of England are within one hour of an inland bathing spot by 2030.
It also hopes to eliminate storm drain or sewage systems entering rivers within the same time frame.
Anglian Water's Dr Robin Price said: “Since the pandemic, we’ve seen an enormous surge of people embracing their local environment and using their local rivers and water courses for wild swimming, paddleboarding and canoeing.
"We fully support aspirations that our rivers should be beautiful places, rich in nature, but also know how valuable they have become for community recreation and wellbeing, and the expectation that they should be safe places for people to enjoy."
Anglian Water noted it will continue to review the results of the tests and make changes if needed.
This includes actions like water treatment, to ensure the water is safe to swim in.
Getting an official bathing water designation will help river groups protect the waterways.
By law, a council must display information about water quality and pollution during the summer bathing period, which runs from May 15 to September 30.
Collecting data on water quality isn't required for the designation, but may help assure users that the water is safe, Anglian Water added.
After designation is gained, the water will be monitored weekly by the Environment Agency to test for pollutant, such as bacteria or waste.
Anglian Water will be working alongside several campaign groups to conduct tests.
Martha Meeks, from the River Waveney Trust (RWT), hopes designation will highlight the importance of rivers as public swimming spots.
She said: "This is an important step in recognising that people do use rivers for leisure and that they should be safe for use. It could lead to greater things.
"We hope that official protection will also encourage polluters to make changes to how they dump waste.
"Given all the results will be published, we also hope it will allow swimmers to make an informed decision about using the waterways."
Martha added that using bathing water designation for rivers is a recent trend, but campaign groups are starting to realise it could help them protect them.
Bathing water designation was designed to highlight beaches safe for public use, and has since been applied to 12 lakes.
Two rivers, the River Wharfe in Ikley, Yorkshire, and Wolvercote Mill stream, Oxfordshire, were the first to be given bathing water designation.
The RWT will submit its application for designation next year.
Another group, the Save the Deben campaign, will submit its application this year.
Nearly 1,000 people who use the River Deben have completed the group's public consultation, to help it gauge how many use the river for leisure.
Ruth Leach, one of the co-founders of Save the Deben, said that pollution in the area has turned some swimmers away.
She hopes that the monitoring and pledge to clean up the river will help bring these users back.
She added: "Anglian Water's pledge is fantastic news to help us protect the River Deben, and we've had a lovely experience working with them thus far - they've been very supportive.
"We've not had full details of when the monitoring process will start or exactly what they'll be looking for. There's more than just e.coli, there are also nitrates, phosphates, and other chemicals.
"We don't know how long they'll be monitoring for, be it for one year, three years, or just during the summer bathing period, but we know it will have a positive impact on the river and our community."