Vast majority of European bathing sites reach minimum standards
The yearly bathing water report has revealed 96 % of coastal swimming areas and 92 % of sites in rivers and lakes met at least the minimum standards set by the European Commission.
Overall the quality of bathing water continues to increase since 1990 to last year with an increase of 80 % to 96 % and from 52 % to 92 % in coastal and inland waters respectively.
From 2007 to 2008 compliance increased both for inland and coastal waters 1.1% and 3.3% respectively.
Professor Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA, said: "Information sources like this report help citizens not only to check the quality of the bathing water in their local community or holiday destination.
"But also allows them to get more actively involved in the protection of their local environment."
To allow Europeans to make an informed choice on which beach to choose, the commission publishes a yearly report on the quality of coastal and freshwater bathing areas as reported by individual member states for their beaches, rivers and lakes.
This year the report was prepared by the EEA, which is also making available on its website maps and tables with detailed information on specific bathing areas.
The report is available from the European Environment Agency.