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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Bathing water quality / Bathing water quality (CSI 022) - Assessment published Dec 2010

Bathing water quality (CSI 022) - Assessment published Dec 2010

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Generic metadata

Topics:

Water Water (Primary topic)

Coasts and seas Coasts and seas

Tags:
soer2010 | thematic assessments | freshwater quality | water | csi | freshwater
DPSIR: State
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 022
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2009
Geographic coverage:
Atlantic Austria Belgium Black Sea Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Marine Baltic sea Marine North sea Mediterranean Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: Is bathing water quality improving?

Key messages

  • The quality of water at designated bathing beaches in Europe (coastal and inland) has improved significantly since 1992.
  • Compliance with mandatory values in EU coastal bathing waters increased from 82.3 % in 1992 to 95.6 % in 2009. Compliance with guide values likewise rose from 71.1 % to 89 %.
  • In 1992, 37.4 % of EU inland bathing areas complied with mandatory values compared to 89.4 % in 2009. Similarly, the rate of compliance with guide values moved from 22 % in 1992 to 70.7 % in 2009.

Coastal bathing water quality in the European Union

Note: 1990, 7 EU Member States; 1991 to 1994, 12 EU Member States; 1995-96, 14 EU Member States; 1997 to 2003, 15 EU Member States; 2004, 21 EU Member States; 2005-06, 25 EU Member States; 2007 to 2009, 27 EU Member States

Data source:

WISE Bathing Water Quality database based on annual reports by EU Member States

Downloads and more info

Inland bathing water quality in the European Union

Note: The figure shows the bathing water quality in different European countries over time

Data source:

WISE Bathing Water Quality database based on annual reports by EU Member States

Downloads and more info

Percentage of European coastal bathing waters complying with mandatory values and meeting guide values of the Bathing Water Directive for the year 2009 by country

Note: Countries arranged by the percentage of compliance with mandatory values.

Data source:

WISE Bathing Water Quality database based on annual reports by EU Member States, Croatia and Switzerland

Downloads and more info

Percentage of European inland bathing waters complying with mandatory values and meeting guide values of the Bathing Water Directive for the year 2009 by country

Note: Sea regions arranged by the percentage of compliance with mandatory values. EU Member States and Switzerland. No inland bathing waters are reported from three Member States (Cyprus, Malta and Romania), Croatia and Montenegro. The quality classes under the New Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) for Hungary and Luxembourg are jointed with compliance categories under the Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC).

Data source:

WISE Bathing Water Quality database based on annual reports by EU Member States, Croatia and Switzerland

http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/bathing-water-directive-status-of-bathing-water-3

Downloads and more info

Percentage of European inland bathing waters complying with mandatory values and meeting guide values of the Bathing Water Directive for the year 2009 by sea region

Note: Regions arranged by the percentage of compliance with mandatory values. EU27 Member States plus Croatia and Switzerland

Data source:

WISE Bathing Water Quality database based on annual reports by EU Member States, Croatia and Switzerland

Downloads and more info

Percentage of European coastal bathing waters complying with mandatory values and meeting guide values of the Bathing Water Directive for the year 2009 by sea region

Note: Regions arranged by the percentage of compliance with mandatory values. EU27 Member States and Croatia

Data source:

WISE Bathing Water Quality database based on annual reports by EU Member States, Croatia and Switzerland

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Introduction

The first European bathing water legislation, the ‘Bathing Water Directive’ was adopted in 1975 and came into force in 1976. Its main objectives are to safeguard public health and protect the aquatic environment in coastal and inland areas from pollution. Bathing waters covered by the Bathing Water Directive can be coastal waters or inland waters (rivers, natural lakes, reservoirs and ponds) in which bathing is explicitly authorised by the competent authorities of each Member State, or not prohibited and traditionally practiced by a large number of bathers. Swimming pools and waters for therapeutic purposes are not covered. The period during which bathers can be expected in bathing areas depends largely on local bathing rules and weather conditions. A bathing season can also vary within a Member State. In the European Union it usually runs from the end of May until the end of September.
New European legislation on bathing water was adopted in 2006. The ‘New Bathing Water Directive’ updates the measures of the 1975 legislation and simplifies its management and surveillance methods.
The New Bathing Water Directive will repeal the old one (Directive 76/160/EEC) by the end of 2014 at latest. Member States can choose to report either under the Bathing Water Directive or the New Bathing Water Directive until the 2012 bathing season when the reporting under the New Bathing Water Directive will become obligatory.
By the 2009 bathing season, 14 countries were monitoring and reporting under the New Bathing Water Directive. In 2005 Sweden was the first country to monitor under the New Bathing Water Directive and has reported results from the 2008 bathing season. Luxembourg started to monitor under the New Bathing Water Directive in the 2006 bathing season and started to report from the 2007 bathing season. Malta started to monitor under the New Bathing Water Directive in the 2006 bathing season and started to report from the 2009 bathing season. Another ten countries (Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Spain) started to monitor and report according to the New Bathing Water Directive's more stringent requirements in the 2008 bathing season, and the Netherlands changed their monitoring and reporting from the 2009 bathing season.

Key assessment

European Union (Figure 1-2)

See also EEA report: Quality of bathing water - 2009 bathing season

Europeans have a huge diversity of beautiful beaches and bathing areas at their disposal. More than 20 000 bathing waters were monitored in the 27 Member States for the 2009 bathing season. Around two-thirds were coastal bathing waters and one-third were inland bathing waters (rivers, lakes and ponds).

Coastal bathing waters
The overall water quality of coastal bathing waters slightly decreased in the European Union in 2009 relative to 2008. Some 95.6 % of coastal bathing waters in the European Union complied with the mandatory values of the Bathing Water Directive during the 2009 bathing season (Fig. 1). This is a decrease of 0.7 percentage points compared to the previous year. However, some 89 % of coastal bathing waters complied with the Bathing Water Directive’s more stringent guide values, which is a 0.4 percentage point increase from 2008. A small number of coastal bathing waters (1.6 %) did not comply with mandatory values, which is a 0.2 percentage point increase. Only 2.3 % of bathing waters were banned or closed during the season, which also represents a 0.2 percentage point increase from 2008.
The quality of the European Union’s coastal bathing waters has improved significantly since 1990 (Fig. 1). The number of bathing waters not complying with the Bathing Water Directive’s provisions decreased from 9.2 % to 1.6 % in 2009, with the lowest level (1.2 %) attained in 2003. Compliance with mandatory values improved dramatically, increasing from just fewer than 80 % in 1990 to over 95 % in 1999, and has remained quite stable since then. Compliance with guide values likewise rose from over 68 % to over 89 % in 2003 and has slightly decreased thereafter.

Inland bathing waters
In 2009, the quality of inland bathing waters decreased relative to 2008. Almost nine in ten reported inland bathing waters (89.4 %) in the European Union complied with the mandatory values during the 2009 bathing season, 2.6 percentage points less than in the previous year (Fig. 2). The percentage of inland bathing waters complying with the more stringent guide values also decreased by 2.7 percentage points, reaching 70.7 %. Only 3.1 % of inland bathing areas in the European Union did not comply with mandatory values, which represented a 0.3 percentage point increase. The share of bathing waters that were banned or closed during the season in 2009 is 4.7 %, a slight increase of 0.1 percentage points.
The overall quality of inland bathing areas in the EU has markedly improved since 1990 (Fig 2) but with greater variations than coastal bathing waters. In 1990, some 52 % of inland bathing areas complied with mandatory values and this number reached 90 % by the early 2000s and decreased slightly afterwards before recovering to 92 % in 2008. Similarly, the rate of compliance with guide values moved from 36.4 % in 1990 to over 70 % since 2008. That represented an increase of approximately 10 percentage points compared to 2005. The number of bathing areas not complying with mandatory values decreased from 11.9 % in 1990 to 3.1 % in 2009.

Assessment by sea regions (Figure 3-4): EU27 plus Croatia and Switzerland
Coastal bathing waters
The majority of coastal bathing waters are located in the Mediterranean Sea region which is 9 026. In the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean regions the number of coastal bathing waters is around 2 000. In the Baltic Sea region there are 1 229 coastal bathing waters and in the Black Sea region 138.
The best compliance with mandatory values in the coastal bathing waters in 2009 was found in the Black Sea region (99.3%) (Fig. 3). The compliance rate was above the average of the European Union (95.6 %) also in the Atlantic Ocean (98 %), North Sea (96.4 %) and Baltic Sea regions (95.9 %). The compliance rate was slightly below the EU average in the Mediterranean Sea region (95.4 %).
The differences among sea regions in regard to guide level values are higher than in regard to mandatory standards. Only the Mediterranean Sea region (93.9 %)  had above average compliance rate with the guide values compared to the EU average of 89 %. The share of coastal bathing areas complying with the guide values in the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea regions stood at 87.4 % and 86 %, respectively. In the Baltic Sea region, 70.7 % of coastal bathing waters complied with the guide values. The lowest compliance rate was achieved in the Black Sea region (61.6 %).


Inland bathing waters
The highest number of inland bathing waters is located in the North Sea region  which is 2 710,. In the Baltic Sea region there are 1 255 inland bathing waters and in the Mediterranean Sea region 1 541. The Black Sea and Atlantic Ocean regions have less than 1 000 inland bathing waters, with 870 and 844 respectively.
The North Sea region achieved the highest compliance rate with mandatory values in the inland bathing waters in 2009 95.8 %, (Fig. 4). The compliance rate was above the average of the European Union of 89.4 % also in the Black Sea (95.1%), Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea regions (both 94.3 %). Only the inland bathing waters of the Mediterranean Sea region (71.3 %) fall below the EU average in complying with the mandatory standards.
The differences among sea regions in regard to guide level values in the inland bathing waters are lower compared to the coastal bathing waters. Inland bathing waters in the Atlantic Ocean region performed the best against the guide values, with 79.6 % of bathing waters complying. 73.4 % of inland bathing waters in the Black Sea region and 73.8 % of inland bathing waters in the North Sea region complied with the guide values, which is above the EU average of 70.7 %. The compliance rate in the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean Sea regions stood at 67.6 % and 64.4 %, respectively.

Assessment by countries (Figure 5-6)
See also WISE interactive map: State of bathing waters
Coastal bathing waters
Italy (4 921), France (2 005), Spain (1 910), Greece (1 273), Denmark (1 087), Croatia (905) and the United Kingdom (596) have the highest number of coastal bathing waters. Countries with less than 50 coastal bathing waters are Romania (49), Latvia (46), Belgium (42), Estonia (27), Slovenia (20) and Lithuania (16).
Seven countries, Slovenia (20), Cyprus (111), Malta (87), Lithuania (16), Belgium (42), Latvia (46) and Romania (49) achieved 100 % compliance with mandatory values in their coastal bathing waters in 2009, while Greece (1 273), Croatia (905) and Germany (373) almost achieved it (99.9%, 99.6% and 99.5%, respectively) (Fig. 5). The mandatory water quality was below the average of the European Union (95.6 %) only in five countries: the Netherlands (95.6 % of 91), Denmark (94.5 % of 1 087), Ireland (93.4 % of 122), Italy (92.2 % of 4 921) and Poland (87.6 % of 89).
The differences among countries in regard to guide values are much higher than in regard to mandatory standards. In general, guide levels values were met in far fewer coastal bathing waters than were the mandatory standards. The best compliance with guide levels (above 96 %) was found in Slovenia (20; 100 %), Greece (99.8 % of 1 273), Cyprus (99.1 % of 111), Croatia (97.9 % of 905), Portugal (96.8 % of 443) and France (96.4 % of 2 005). The guide water quality was below the average of the European Union (89 %) in 14 countries. The lowest compliance with guide levels (below 60 %) was reached in Estonia (55.6 % of 27), Latvia (50 % of 46), Poland (37.1 % of 89) and Romania (8.2 % of 49).
Among countries with coastal bathing waters, Malta is the first country that was assessed under the New Bathing Water Directive. In Malta, 93.1 % of the coastal bathing waters had excellent quality and 6.9 % of the coastal bathing waters had good quality in 2009. No bathing waters had poor quality.


Inland bathing waters
Germany and France have the highest number of inland bathing waters (1 906 and 1 343 respectively). The other countries with more than 300 inland bathing waters are Italy (770), the Netherlands (553) and Switzerland (382). Countries with less than 30 inland bathing waters are Estonia (28), Slovenia (25), Luxembourg (20), the United Kingdom (12), Ireland (nine), Greece (four) and Bulgaria (four).
Three countries with few inland bathing waters, Greece (four), Bulgaria (four) and the United Kingdom (12), achieved 100 % compliance with mandatory values in their inland bathing waters in 2009, while Sweden (210) and Switzerland (382) almost reached it (both 99.5 %) (Fig. 6). The compliance rate was lower than the average of the European Union (89.4 %) in seven countries: Denmark (88.9 % of 117), Ireland (88.9 % of nine), Hungary (86.4 % of 177), Belgium (82.1 % of 84), Poland (81.5 % of 232), Luxembourg (55 % of 20) and Italy (46.4 % of 770). Compared to the coastal bathing waters the differences in compliance with mandatory standards among countries are much higher.
As with the coastal bathing waters, in general, the guide levels were met in far fewer inland bathing waters as compared to mandatory values. The best compliance with guide levels (above 90 %) was found in Greece (four; 100 %), France (94.6 % of 1 343) and Finland (90.6 % of 254). Countries with more than 80 % compliance rate were also Switzerland (84 % of 382), Sweden (83.8 % of 210) and Germany (81.2 % of 1 906). The guide water quality was lower than the average of the European Union (70.7 %) in 15 countries. Countries with the lowest compliance rate (below 40 %) were Italy (37.3 % of 770), Slovenia (36 % of 25) and the United Kingdom (33.3 % of 12).
Among countries with inland bathing waters, Luxembourg is the first country that was assessed under the New Bathing Water Directive. In Luxembourg, 55 % of the inland bathing waters had excellent quality and 45 % of the inland bathing waters had poor quality in 2009.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Peter Kristensen

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 1.4.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 1 year in April-June (Q2)
Document Actions
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100