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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Bathing water quality / Bathing water quality (CSI 022) - Assessment published Mar 2012

Bathing water quality (CSI 022) - Assessment published Mar 2012

Topics: , ,

Generic metadata

Topics:

Water Water (Primary topic)

Coasts and seas Coasts and seas

Tags:
soer2010 | csi | freshwater quality | water | bathing water | bathing water quality | thematic assessments | freshwater
DPSIR: State
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 022
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2010
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: Is bathing water quality improving?

Key messages

  • The quality of water at designated bathing waters in Europe (coastal and inland) has improved significantly since 1990.
  • Compliance with mandatory values in EU coastal bathing waters increased from just below 80 % in 1990 to 92.1 % in 2010. Compliance with guide values likewise rose from over 68 % to 79.5 % in 2010.
  • Compliance with mandatory values in EU inland bathing waters increased from 52 % in 1990 to 90.2 % in 2010. Similarly, the rate of compliance with guide values moved from 36.4 % in 1990 to 60.5 % in 2010.

Coastal bathing water quality in the European Union, 1990-2010

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 2010, 27 EU Member States

Data source:

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

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

Downloads and more info

Inland bathing water quality in the European Union, 1990-2010

Note: The figure shows the bathing water quality in different European countries over time 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 2010, 27 EU Member States. No inland bathing waters are reported from three Member States (Cyprus, Malta and Romania). 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

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

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 2010 by country

Note: Countries arranged by the percentage of compliance with mandatory values. Five Member States (Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg and Slovakia) and Switzerland have no coastal bathing waters. The quality classes under the New Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) for Malta 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 2010 by country

Note: Countries arranged by the percentage of compliance with mandatory values. 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 2010 by sea region

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 coastal bathing waters complying with mandatory values and meeting guide values of the Bathing Water Directive for the year 2010 by sea region

Note: Sea regions arranged by the percentage of compliance with mandatory values. EU Member States, Croatia and Montenegro. Five Member States (Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg and Slovakia) and Switzerland have no coastal bathing waters. The quality classes under the New Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) for Malta 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

Key assessment

Key assessment

Introduction to Bathing Water Directives
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 directive requires that EU Member States comply with even stricter requirements and implement effective management of bathing water, public participation and better information dissemination.

The new 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 old or new directive until the 2012 bathing season when the reporting under the new one will become obligatory. In 2010, six countries, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom, as well as the Flemish part of Belgium reported under the old directive. The other EU Member States and the Walloon region of Belgium monitored and reported the state of bathing water under the new directive. Three non‑EU countries - Croatia, Montenegro and Switzerland - reported bathing water quality results under the new directive as well.

Assessing bathing water quality under the new directive requires a data set of three or four consecutive years instead of a single year's result as for the old directive. While those data are being compiled, the rules for transition period are applied. Comparison of bathing water quality by country is done with integration of three types of assessments. For six countries and the Flemish part of Belgium the assessment is done under the old directive. The overall assessment under the new directive could be done for Luxembourg, Malta and Hungary. The quality classes under the new directive are jointed with compliance categories under the old directive. For the other countries the assessment is done under the transition period rules.


Results
European Union (Figure 1-2)

See also EEA report: Quality of bathing water - 2010 bathing season

Europeans have a huge diversity of beautiful beaches and bathing areas at their disposal. In 2010, EU Member States reported 21 063 bathing waters, of which 70 % are coastal bathing waters.

The New Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) requires Member States to adjust their monitoring procedures. These adjustments include the requirement that sampling begin shortly before the start of the bathing season and that the interval between sampling should not exceed one month. In some cases these required changes have yet to be implemented, resulting in a late start date of sampling at some sites and/or insufficiently frequent sampling. As a late start and low frequency do not necessarily indicate unsatisfactory bathing water quality, for 2010 results reported under less strict rules have been deemed acceptable. From 2012, however, the stricter rules will apply. Under the less strict rules, the assessment for Greece is based on a sampling period that begins at the end of July and runs to the end of the bathing water season. In addition, for all Member States results from monitoring at low frequency (less than 42 days between sampling dates) were accepted. Under the strict rules,  the first sample should be taken not later than 10 days after the start of the bathing season and the interval between sampling should not exceed one month.

Coastal bathing waters

Some 92.1 % of coastal bathing waters complied with the mandatory values and some 79.5 % of coastal bathing waters complied with the more stringent guide values during the 2010 bathing season (Fig. 1). This is a decrease of 3.5 percentage points and 9.5 percentage points respectively compared to the previous year. A small share of coastal bathing waters (1.2 %) did not comply with mandatory values in 2010, which is a 0.4 percentage point decrease from 2009. The number of bathing waters not complying with the bathing water directives' provisions decreased from 565 (9.2 %) in 1990 to 173 (1.2 %) in 2010. Only 0.3 % of bathing waters were banned or closed during the season, which represents a 2 percentage point decrease from 2009.

Compliance with mandatory values increased from just below 80 % in 1990 to over 95 % in 1999, and has remained quite stable since then (Fig. 1). Compliance with guide values likewise rose from over 68 % to over 89 % in 2003 and was then nearly constant but with a drop to 79.5 % in 2010.

Even with the less strict monitoring frequency criteria applied, in 2010 there was an increase in the number of insufficiently sampled or non‑sampled sites. Some 937 (6.4 %) coastal bathing waters were insufficiently sampled or not sampled compared to 100 or less (below 1 %) since 2003. If strict rules for monitoring frequency and start date were applied, then all coastal bathing waters in Greece, 65.6 % of Italian coastal bathing waters and some bathing waters elsewhere would be classified as insufficiently sampled. Since this comprises almost 40 % of all EU coastal bathing waters, only 59.2 % of coastal bathing waters would comply with the mandatory values and 49.1 % with the more stringent guide values if the strict rules were applied.

Inland bathing waters
In 2010, 90.2 % of inland bathing waters in the European Union were compliant with the mandatory values during the bathing season, a figure 0.8 percentage points higher than in the previous year (Fig. 2). The number of inland bathing waters complying with the more stringent guide values decreased by 10.2 percentage points compared to 2009, reaching 60.5 %. Only 2.8 % of inland bathing areas in the European Union did not comply with mandatory values, which represented a 0.3 percentage point decrease. The share of bathing waters that were banned or closed during the season in 2010 was 1.6 %, a decrease of 3.1 percentage points in comparison to 2009.

The overall quality of inland bathing areas in the EU has markedly improved since 1990 but with greater variations than coastal bathing waters (Fig. 2). In 1990, some 52 % of inland bathing areas complied with mandatory values. 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 changed from 36.4 % in 1990 to over 70 % since 2008. More recently, the percentage of bathing waters complying with guide values dropped again. Nevertheless, the number of inland bathing areas not complying with mandatory values decreased from 11.9 % in 1990 to 2.8 % in 2010, which is among the lowest levels to date.

Applying the strict rules, 8.1 % of inland bathing waters were insufficiently sampled or not sampled in 2010, a figure 2.7 % higher than that derived when applying the less strict rules and the highest share since 1997. Under the strict rules, 87.5 % of inland bathing waters in the European Union complied with the mandatory values and 58.4 % of inland bathing waters complied with the more stringent guide values during the 2010 bathing season.

Assessment by countries (Figure 3-4)

See also WISE interactive map: State of bathing waters


Coastal bathing waters
A total of 24 countries reported coastal bathing waters. Italy (4 896), Greece (2 149), France (2 012), Spain (1 930), Denmark (1 054), Croatia (913) and the United Kingdom (596) have the highest number of coastal bathing waters. Countries with less than 50 coastal bathing waters are Romania (49), Belgium (42), Latvia (33), Estonia (27), Slovenia (21), Montenegro (17) and Lithuania (16). There are no coastal bathing waters in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Switzerland. 

Generally the proportion of bathing waters in the countries complying with the stricter guide or mandatory values was higher for coastal waters than inland waters.

Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia, Malta, Greece, Bulgaria, Estonia, Belgium, Romania and  Montenegro achieved 100 % compliance with mandatory values in their coastal bathing waters in 2010, while Germany almost achieved it (99.5 %) (Fig. 5). The mandatory water quality was below the average of the European Union (92.1 %) only in France (89.4 %), Italy (85.3 %) and Poland (75 %). In addition, the Netherlands (92.2 %) reached below average compliance compared to the European average of 92.5 %.

Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovenia also reached total compliance with the guide values in the coastal bathing waters. The compliance rate was above 90 %  also in Croatia (97.3 %), Malta (95.4 %), Greece (94.2 %) and Ireland (92.6 %). The guide water quality was below the average of the European Union (79.5  %) in 11 countries. The lowest compliance with the guide values (below 70 %) was reached in France (68.4 %), the Netherlands (60 %), Belgium (26.2 %), Poland (15.9 %), Romania (2 %) and Montenegro (0 %).

Inland bathing waters
A total of 25 countries reported inland bathing waters on lakes and rivers. Germany and France have the highest number of inland bathing waters (1 915 and 1 314 respectively). The other countries with more than 250 inland bathing waters are Italy (596), the Netherlands (579), Switzerland (381), Austria (268) and Hungary (251). Countries with less than 50 inland bathing waters are Slovakia (36), Estonia (28), Slovenia (25), Luxembourg (20), Latvia (14), the United Kingdom (12), Ireland (nine), Greece (six) and Bulgaria (four). The reasons for such low numbers vary by countries. There are no inland bathing waters reported from Croatia, Cyprus, Malta, Montenegro and Romania.

Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Latvia, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Slovenia achieved 100 % compliance with mandatory values in their inland bathing waters in 2010 (Fig. 6). The compliance rate was lower than the average of the European Union (90.2 %) in 10 countries. Countries with the lowest compliance rate with the mandatory values (below 80 %) are Belgium (79 %), Ireland (77.8 %), Poland (77.5 %), Italy (72.7 %), Hungary (55.8 %) and Luxembourg (50 %).

As with the coastal bathing waters, the differences among countries in regard to guide values are higher than in regard to mandatory values. Only Bulgaria reached total compliance with the guide values in the inland bathing waters. The compliance rate was above 80 %  also in Denmark (90.4 %), Finland (87.2 %) and Greece (83.3 %). The guide water quality was lower than the average of the European Union (60.5 %) in 15 countries. Countries with the lowest compliance rate with the guide values (below 50 %) are France (47.7 %), Hungary (46.6 %), the Netherlands (45.9 %), Lithuania (45.9 %), Slovakia (41.7 %), Spain (31.8 %), Belgium (29.6 %) and Poland (29.5 %).

Assessment by sea regions (Figure 5-6): EU27 plus Croatia, Montenegro and Switzerland

Coastal bathing waters
The majority of coastal bathing waters are located on the Mediterranean Sea coasts (about 9 900), representing almost two thirds of all reported coastal bathing waters in Europe. The number of coastal bathing waters is more than 2 400 on the Atlantic Ocean coasts and more than 2 200 on the North Sea coasts. This number is much lower for the Baltic Sea and Black Sea coasts (about 660 and 140 respectively).

Total compliance with the mandatory values in the coastal bathing waters in 2010 was reached on the Black Sea coasts (Fig. 3). The compliance rate was above the average of the European Union (92.1 %) also on the North Sea (97.7 %), the Baltic Sea (93.5 %) and the Mediterranean Sea coasts (92.3 %). The compliance rate was below average only on the Atlantic Ocean coasts (88.4 %). The European average (including Croatia and Montenegro) was slightly above the EU average (92.5 %).   

Only the Mediterranean Sea coasts (85.3 %)  had above average compliance rate with the guide values in the coastal bathing waters compared to the EU average of 79.5  % and the European average (including Croatia and Montenegro) of 80.4 %. The Atlantic Ocean and North Sea coasts achieved the same compliance rate with the guide values (73.5 %). On the Baltic Sea coasts, 64.9 % of coastal bathing waters complied with the guide values. The lowest compliance was reached on the Black Sea coasts (55.4 %).

Inland bathing waters

The North Sea catchment area covers the highest number of inland bathing waters in Europe (more than 2 800), accounting for about 40 % of all reported inland bathing waters in Europe. The share of inland bathing waters in other sea region catchment areas is similar, ranking from 12 to 19 %. There are more than 1 300 bathing waters in the Mediterranean Sea catchment area. The number of inland bathing waters is more than 950 in the Black Sea and about 860 in the Baltic Sea and Atlantic Ocean catchment areas.

In the North Sea (93 %), Atlantic Ocean (92.4 %) and Baltic Sea catchment areas (91.2 %), the compliance rate with the mandatory values in the inland bathing waters was above the average of the European Union of 90.2 % and the European average (including Switzerland) of 90.5 % in 2010 (Fig. 4). The compliance rate in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea catchment areas stood at 89.3 % and 86.6 %, respectively.

As with the coastal bathing waters, the differences among sea regions in regard to guide values are higher compared to the mandatory values. Inland bathing waters in the Black Sea (66.2 %), North Sea (65.5 %) and Baltic Sea catchment areas (64.6 %) performed above average in meeting the guide values compared to the EU average of 60.5 % and the European average (including Switzerland) of 60.8 %. Some 55.9 % of inland bathing waters in the Mediterranean Sea catchment area and 46.2 % of inland bathing waters in the Atlantic Ocean catchment area complied with the guide values.



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

2011 1.4.1 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 1 year in April-June (Q2)
Document Actions
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