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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Bathing water quality / Bathing water quality (CSI 022) - Assessment DRAFT created Aug 2013

Bathing water quality (CSI 022) - Assessment DRAFT created Aug 2013

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Generic metadata

Topics:

Water Water (Primary topic)

Coasts and seas Coasts and seas

Tags:
bathing water directive | soer2010 | csi | freshwater quality | water | geospatial data | bathing water | bathing water quality | coastal bathing water | thematic assessments | freshwater | point data
DPSIR: State
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 022
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2012
Geographic coverage:
Austria Baltic Sea Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Czechia Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Mediterranean Sea Netherlands Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden United Kingdom
 
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 (or at least sufficient quality) in EU coastal bathing waters increased from just below 80 % in 1990 to 95.3 % in 2012. Compliance with guide values (or excellent quality) likewise rose from over 68 % to 81.2 % in 2012. 
  • Compliance with mandatory values (or at least sufficient quality) in EU inland bathing waters increased from over 52 % in 1990 to 91% in 2012. Similarly, the rate of compliance with guide values (or excellent quality) moved from over 36 % in 1990 to 72 % in 2012.

Coastal bathing water quality.

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively
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Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Inland bathing water quality in the European Union

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively
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Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Percentage of European coastal bathing waters complying with mandatory value (or with at least sufficient quality) and meeting guide values (or with excellent quality).

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively
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Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Percentage of European inland bathing waters complying with mandatory value (or with at least sufficient quality) and meeting guide values (or with excellent quality).

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively
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Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Percentage of European coastal bathing waters complying with mandatory value (or with at least sufficient quality) and meeting guide values (or with excellent quality) by sea region.

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively
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Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Percentage of European inland bathing waters complying with mandatory value (or with at least sufficient quality) and meeting guide values (or with excellent quality) by sea region.

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively
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Data sources: Explore chart interactively

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. This Directive requires that EU Member States comply with even stricter requirements and implement effective management of bathing water, public participation and better information dissemination.

All countries monitored and reported the measured values of concentrations in their bathing waters of two microbiological parameters - intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli in 2012 when reporting under the new bathing water directive becomes obligatory. For the 2012 season, bathing water quality has been assessed under the new bathing water directive in 19 European countries, including Croatia. Bathing water quality in the other ten countries has been assessed under a set of transitional rules, since the full set of data sampled according to the rules of the new directive going back four years is not yet available for these countries.

 Results

See also EEA report: European bathing water quality in 2012

European Union (Figure 1-2)

Europeans have a huge diversity of beautiful beaches and bathing areas at their disposal. In 2012, the 27 EU Member States reported 20 930 bathing waters, of which more than two thirds (69 %) are coastal bathing waters.

Coastal bathing waters

In 2012, 95.3 % of all coastal waters in the EU achieved the minimum quality standards established by the EU directives (Fig. 1). This was an increase of 2.0 percentage points compared to 2011. The share of bathing waters with excellent quality (or complying with the guide values) in 2012 reached 81.2 % (an increase of 0.9 percentage points from 2011).

In 2012, EU Member States reported 249 coastal bathing waters (1.7 %) with poor quality or not in compliance with mandatory values, an increase of 0.3 percentage points compared with 2011. This year-on-year increase goes against the longer-term trend, which has been a steady decline in the share of coastal bathing waters that do not comply with bathing water directives: for example, the share of non-compliant bathing waters in 1990 was 9.2 %. Eight coastal bathing water sites were closed or banned in 2012, which is significantly fewer than in 2011, when 139 coastal bathing waters were closed or banned.

It was not possible to classify the status of the remaining 421 coastal bathing waters (which represents 2.9 % of all coastal bathing waters), because they were insufficiently sampled, not sampled, or were newly opened and could not yet be assessed under the new directive due to changes. This presented a 1.4 percentage points decrease from 2011, when 4.3 % of all coastal bathing waters could not be classified.

Compliance with so-called 'mandatory' values (those waters meeting the 'sufficient' standard) increased steadily between 1990 and 2000, but has remained quite stable since then. Compliance with so-called 'guide' values (those waters meeting the 'excellent' standard - a more strict standard than the mandatory value) was also on an increasing path from 1990 to 2000, before reaching a plateau. It then dropped below 80 % in 2010 and has since remained
stable.

Inland bathing waters 

The percentage of inland bathing waters with excellent quality was 72 % in 2012 (Fig. 2). This is 1.6 percentage point increase in comparison to the 2011 bathing season. In 2012, 91 % of inland bathing waters in the European Union had good or sufficient quality. This is a one percentage point increase from 2011.

Only 2.3 % of inland bathing waters in the EU did not satisfy the minimum quality level. This is 0.1 % decrease from the previous year, continuing the slow but steady reduction in the percentage of poor quality bathing waters. The share of banned or closed bathing waters for 2012 was 0.5 % and is also smaller in comparison with 2011 by 0.5 percentage points, following the steady trend of 2010–2012 period.

Out of 6 436 inland bathing waters, it was not possible to classify the status for 399 (6.2 %) as they were insufficiently sampled, not sampled, newly opened or not yet assessed due to changes. This is an decrease of 0.4 percentage points from the previous year, and stopping a trend that began in 2009 of an increasing share of bathing waters whose status could not be classified.

Assessment by countries (Figure 3-4)

See also WISE interactive map: State of bathing waters and national bathing water reports for the 2012 bathing season

Coastal bathing waters

A total of 23 countries reported coastal bathing waters in 2012. Italy (4 880), Greece (2 149), France (2 034), Spain (1 926), Denmark (973), Croatia (912) and the United Kingdom (617) have the highest number of coastal bathing waters. Countries with less than 50 coastal bathing waters are Romania (49), Belgium (42), Latvia (32), Estonia (27), Slovenia (21) and Lithuania (16). There are no coastal bathing waters in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Switzerland. 

Cyprus, Slovenia, Malta, Lithuania, Belgium, Latvia and Romania achieved at least sufficient quality or complied with the mandatory value in all their coastal bathing waters in 2012 (Fig. 3). At least sufficient or mandatory water quality was below the average of the European Union (95.3 %) in seven countries. These were the United Kingdom (93.7 %), Denmark (93.5 %), the Netherlands (91.2 %), Sweden (88.3 %), France (87.1 %), Finland (86.7 %) and Estonia (85.2 %).

In Cyprus and Slovenia all coastal bathing waters also achieved excellent quality or met the guide values. In Malta (96.6 %), Croatia (96.1 %), Greece (93.4 %) and Portugal (91.8 %) more than 90 % of coastal bathing waters achieved excellent quality or met the guide values. The excellent or guide water quality was below the average of the European Union (81.2 %) in 14 countries. Countries with less than 60 % of coastal bathing waters having excellent quality or meeting the guide values were the United Kingdom (58.8 %), Belgium (52.4 %), Estonia (40.7 %), Latvia (37.5 %) and Romania (8.2 %).

Inland bathing waters

A total of 26 countries reported inland bathing waters on lakes and rivers in 2012. Germany and France have the highest number of inland bathing waters (1 929 and 1 288). The other countries with more than 250 inland bathing waters are Italy (629), the Netherlands (605), Switzerland (335) and Austria (266). Countries with less than 20 inland bathing waters are Latvia (14), the United Kingdom (12), Luxembourg (11), Ireland (nine), Croatia (seven), Greece (six) and Bulgaria (four). The reasons for such low numbers vary by countries. There are no inland bathing waters reported from Cyprus, Malta and Romania.  

In Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Ireland, Slovenia, Greece and the United Kingdom all inland bathing waters achieved at least sufficient quality or complied with the mandatory value in 2012 (Fig. 4). At least sufficient or mandatory water quality was lower than the average of the European Union (91 %) in 11 countries. Countries with less than 80 % of inland bathing waters having at least sufficient quality or complying with the mandatory value were Belgium (79 %), Hungary (69.8 %), Croatia (14.3 %) and Switzerland (13.7 %).

As with the coastal bathing waters, the differences among countries in regard to guide values (or excellent quality) are higher than in regard to mandatory value (or at least sufficient quality). Bulgaria and Luxembourg also achieved excellent quality or met the guide values in all their inland bathing waters. In Denmark (89.7 %), Germany (89.7 %), Estonia (88.9 %) and Finland (88.2 %) more than 80 % of inland bathing waters achieved excellent quality or met the guide values. The excellent or guide water quality was lower than the average of the European Union (72 %) in 14 countries. Countries with less than 50 % of inland bathing waters having excellent quality or meeting the guide values were France (49 %), Spain (46.1 %), Slovenia (34.6 %), Greece (33.3 %), the United Kingdom (25 %), Switzerland (10.1 %) and Croatia (0 %).

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

Coastal bathing waters

The majority of coastal bathing waters are located on the Mediterranean Sea coasts (9 894), representing almost two thirds of all reported coastal bathing waters in Europe. The number of coastal bathing waters is 2 542 on the Atlantic Ocean coasts, 1 617 on the Greater North Sea coasts and 1 197 on the Baltic Sea coasts. This number is much lower for the Black Sea coasts (138).

The Black Sea (99.3 %) and the Mediterranean Sea (97.8 %) coasts performed above average in achieving at least sufficient quality or complying with the mandatory value compared to the EU average of 95.3 % and the European average (including Croatia) of 95.5 % in 2012 (Fig. 5). Some 95.2 % of coastal bathing waters on the Baltic Sea coasts, 93.8 % of coastal bathing waters on the Greater North Sea coasts and 87.6 % of coastal bathing waters on the Atlantic Ocean coasts achieved at least sufficient quality or complied with the mandatory value.

Some 89.1 % of coastal bathing waters on the Mediterranean Sea coasts achieved excellent quality or met the guide values compared to the EU average of 81.2 % and the European average (including Croatia) of 82 %. The excellent or guide water quality was below average on the Atlantic Ocean (72.8 %), the Baltic Sea (72.3 %), the Greater North Sea (63 %) and the Black Sea (42.8 %) coasts.

Inland bathing waters

The Greater North Sea catchment area covers the highest number of inland bathing waters in Europe (2 670), accounting for almost 40 % of all reported inland bathing waters in Europe. There are 1 402 bathing waters in the Mediterranean Sea catchment area. The number of inland bathing waters is 941 in the Black Sea, 898 in the Baltic Sea and 864 in the Atlantic Ocean catchment areas. 

The Baltic Sea (92.5 %), the Black Sea (89.9 %) and the Atlantic Ocean (88 %) catchment areas performed above average in achieving at least sufficient quality or complying with the mandatory value compared to the European average (including Croatia and Switzerland) of 87.1 % in 2012 (Fig. 6). Some 86.5 % of inland bathing waters in the Greater North Sea catchment area and 80 % of inland bathing waters in the Mediterranean Sea catchment area had at least sufficient or mandatory water quality. A high percentage of insufficiently sampled bathing waters in Switzerland (86.3 %) lowers the European average compared to the EU average of 91 %.

As with the coastal bathing waters, the differences among sea regions in regard to guide values (or excellent quality) are higher compared to the mandatory value (or at least sufficient quality). The Baltic Sea (80.6 %), the Black Sea (76 %) and the Greater North Sea (74.8 %) catchment areas achieved excellent quality or compliance with the guide values above the EU average of 72 % and the European average (including Croatia and Switzerland) of 68.9 %. The excellent or guide water quality was the lowest in the Mediterranean Sea (53.9 %) and the Atlantic Ocean (52 %) catchment areas.

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

2013 1.4.1 (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