Improvements in EU bathing sites as 94% meet standard
Europe's bathing water quality has improved with 94% of bathing sites in the EU now meeting minimum standards, according to the European Environment Agency's (EA) latest data.
In addition, the data, gathered by local authorities, also revealed that water quality is "excellent" at 78% of sites and almost 2% more sites meet the minimum requirements compared to last year's report.
The data looks at 22,000 sites across the 27 European Union Member States, Croatia and Switzerland, and measures levels of bacteria from sewage and livestock. More than two thirds of sites are coastal beaches, with rivers and lakes making up the remainder.
EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade said: "Cyprus and Luxembourg stand out with all listed bathing sites achieving excellent water quality. Eight other countries have excellent quality values above the EU average: Malta (97%), Croatia (95%), Greece (93%), Germany (88%), Portugal (87%), Italy (85%), Finland (83%) and Spain (83%). This is an improvement on last year's results, continuing the positive trend since bathing water monitoring began under the Bathing Water Directive in 1990".
Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik welcomed the news saying that the improvement is "encouraging".
"More remains to be done to ensure all our waters are suitable for bathing and drinking and that our aquatic ecosystems are in good health. Water is a precious resource and we need to put into practice all the necessary measures to protect it in full," said Potocnik.
However, in spite of the general improvement, this year's report reveals that almost 2% of bathing sites at beaches, lakes and rivers have poor water quality. The highest proportions of non-compliant bathing sites were in Belgium (12%), the Netherlands (7%) and the UK (6%). Some of these beaches had to be closed during the 2012 season.
In general, coastal bathing sites score highly, with more than 9 % of EU sites meeting the minimum requirements and 81% rated as excellent. In comparison, 91% of bathing waters in lakes and rivers score above the minimum threshold and 72% have excellent quality.
According to the EEA, storm water overflows, caused when sewers cannot cope with heavy rains, are still a problem in some areas, although better water treatment and fewer raw sewage discharges into the environment have improved water quality.
In the early 1990s, only around 60% of sites had excellent quality water, while 78% have excellent quality in this year's report. Over the same period, bathing water sites meeting at least the minimum standards have increased from 70% to 94%.
Last week, the Environment Agency (EA) announced that it had begun testing England's bathing waters to improve water quality and protect England's £3.6bn seaside tourist economy.
EA water quality sampling teams will be taking a total of 8,400 samples at over 400 bathing sites between now and September.
EA analysis suggests that 10% or around 55 of England's beaches could be at risk of failing the new, tighter standards that come into force in 2015.
- DWI releases update following UK's departure from EU The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) has released an updated position paper on Drinking Water Quality in England and... Read More >
- Water sector measures highlighted in Environment Bill The government has unveiled a raft of new policies in its Environment Bill, with Ofwat and the Environment Agency set to... Read More >
- Metal detection advances for Scottish Water Scottish Water is turning to advanced analytical technology to detect for metallic elements such as iron, manganese,... Read More >
- Asset resilience will be one of the beneficiaries of PR19 Richard Broome, Managing Director at LSBUD talks about why Ofwat's PR19 could prove to be such a positive influence on... Read More >
- Reaching net carbon zero In summer 2019, the water industry committed to reach net carbon zero by 2030. This is a very ambitious aim and... Read More >
- Meeting AMP7 leakage targets Damian Crawford, head of smart networks & leakage at Stantec, discusses how becoming data-rich and knowledge-smart can... Read More >
- Rewarding excellence WWT content director Alec Peachey looks ahead to next year's Water Industry Awards. Read More >
- Delivering a smart network Tom Mills, senior director UK&I at Sensus, examines what a smart water network really means - and how to get there. Read More >