Water quality worsens in Europe's lakes and rivers

Ten per cent of Europe's lakes and rivers used for swimming and water sports do not meet the required standards for EU bathing water, the latest figures have found.

Presenting its annual report on the quality of bathing water the European Commission found that while the vast majority of coastal bathing sites (96.7%) met the standards of the 1976 Bathing Water Directive, inland sites such as lakes and rivers had got worse, with one in ten not up to standard.

Stavros Dimas, Commissioner for Environment said he was determined to achieve maximum water quality across the EU.

"Generally speaking, bathing water quality is good across the EU. But there is certainly room for improvement," he said.

He noted two negative trends in some older Member States. One is the deletion of sites from their official list of designated bathing areas, making them exempt from the standards of the directive rather than working to bring them up to standard.

Secondly, he noted a number of Member States banning bathing indefinitely at non-compliant listed sites, again rather than taking action to clean them up.

In many cases these practices are being used at sites with chronic pollution problems and are clearly against the lines of the directive. The Commission has said it will be taking action with each of the Member States concerned.

Greece was found to have the cleanest coastal water quality as well as complying with guidelines for all of its inland bathing water areas.

By David Hopkins



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