Bathing water in Europe gets another positive bill of health with the European Commission’s annual report.
Half a percent fewer coastal bathing areas got top marks for hygiene compared with the previous test year.
This still meant that 96% of seaside sites in 2005 were given the coveted blue rating.
But the proportion of inland bathing sites in compliance with the EU directive’s mandatory standards continued to fall.
It decreased by almost four percentage points, to 86%.
These falls were mainly due to insufficient sampling, which counts as non-compliance.
The report shows complete results for almost 21,000 bathing areas in the EU-25.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas presented the report:
“Countries can take sites off the list of bathing waters if they are no longer used by a sufficient number of bathers, but the directive does not permit this if their aim is simply to avoid dealing with a problem of pollution. If they are polluted they take them off the list so their overall picture will be better, which is not true.”
Pollution in bathing water is largely taken to mean fecal matter, resulting from inadequate sewage treatment.
But the directive is being tightened to take other things into account, such as heavy metals, which are also harmful to bathers’ health.
Member States that have de-listed sites against the EU rules – must answer in court.
Last year more than 300 bathing zones were deleted from national lists.
No geographical coordinates were provided for 2,300 zones.
New Member States Hungary, Latvia, Malta and Poland reported for the first time this year.
Maps and lists of bathing sites are available on the Commission5;s bathing water website at ec.europa.eu