European bathing waters were characterized as high quality in 2013 and 95% of them satisfy the minimum quality requirements. In fact, beaches fared best compared to lakes and rivers, according to the annual report of the European Environment Agency.
All bathing areas in Cyprus and Luxembourg were classified in the report as of "exceptional," whereas the countries that follow are Malta at a rate of 99%, Croatia 95% and Greece at a rate of 93%.
At the other extreme, the countries with insufficient quality are, according to the report Estonia (6%), Holland (5%) and Belgium at a rate of 4%. It is remarkable that among those countries with the poorest quality bathing waters there are two Mediterranean countries, France and Spain with a rate of 3% and also Ireland with the same rate.
The annual report concerning the quality of the bathing waters, edited by the European Environmental Agency, records the quality of water in 22,000 bathing areas in all of the European Union and in Switzerland, and for the first time, also in Albania. In parallel with the report, the European Environmental Agency has also published an interactive map with the results of every area for the past year.
The Environment Commissioner Mr. Janez Potočnik has stated on the occasion of the report: "It is to be welcomed that the European bathing waters remain of high quality, but we do not really have the luxury to be content with such a precious natural asset like water. We need to keep insuring that the water in which we swim, the water that we drink and our aquatic ecosystems are totally protected."
The local authorities gather samples from beaches of every area in summer and during the bathing season, in order to come to clear conclusions. There are four different categories that a water may be classified: "Excellent water quality," "Good water quality," "Sufficient water quality," and "Poor water quality." The evaluations are based on the level of two types of bacteria, whose existence is an indication of pollution resulting from effluents or husbandry. These two bacteria are susceptible to cause certain diseases (vomiting and diarrhea) if swallowed.
In the evaluation process garbage, pollution and other issues that may harm the natural environment are not taken into consideration. The majority of the bathing areas are clean enough for the protection of human health. Nevertheless, the situation of several European aquatic ecosystems is identified as a major concern, as many of them are threatened by the climate change, pollution, and overfishing.
What do you think about the quality of bathing water in your country? How has the EU classified it?
The original article, published in Greek, can be found here.
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