Majority of EU bathing waters meet quality standards

A new report has revealed that 92.1% of bathing waters in the European Union now meet the minimum water quality standards set by the Bathing Water Directive.

The results from the latest annual Bathing Water Report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission shows that 77.1% of bathing sites such as beaches, rivers and lakes had excellent quality. This was up 3.5% on last year’s figures.

In the UK the Serpentine Lake in London, which will be used to host several Olympic events, including the open water marathon swim and the swimming leg of the triathlon, also met the mandatory standards for water quality.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “I am pleased to note that the quality of Europe’s bathing waters generally remains high, and has improved since last year. A clear majority of Europeans are concerned about water quality issues, and want more information on this. We must therefore continue our work to ensure our waters are appropriate for all legitimate uses – from bathing to drinking – and that the overall aquatic ecosystem is in good health.”

In addition, 93.1 % of coastal bathing waters were classified as ‘sufficient’, and complied with the less stringent mandatory values – a 1 % increase. Less than 2 % of bathing waters were non-compliant.

At the high end of the water quality scale were Cyprus, Croatia, Malta and Greece, which all had 90% of bathing water sites achieving an excellent quality standard. The UK was polled in tenth position, coming in just behind Ireland with a rating of just under 80%.

EEA executive director professor Jacqueline McGlade, said: “The quality of water at beaches and other bathing spots is one of the most important environmental concerns of European citizens. But in several countries there is still a problem with pollution from agriculture and sewage, so we need to see more efforts to ensure safe and clean water for the public.”

Carys Matthews

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie