The latest EEA report confirms that bathing waters in Europe are of high quality, with more than 94 % of these sites meeting minimum requirements.
Bathing water policy is one of the success stories in EU water policy and important to protect human health and the environment.
© Peter Kristensen
Since the 1970s, the EU has had rules in place to safeguard public health and clean bathing waters. The new Bathing Water Directive (BWD) of 2006 updated and simplified these rules. It requires Members States to monitor and assess the bathing water for at least two parameters of (faecal) bacteria. In addition, they must inform the public about bathing water quality and beach management, through the so-called bathing water profiles. These profiles contain for instance information on the kind of pollution and sources that affect the quality of the bathing water and are a risk to bathers' health (such as waste water discharges).
In this light, the Commission introduced a symbol on bathing water classification in 2011.
The BWD also complements other environmental policy:
Information to the public: the bathing water report
Every year the Commission and the European Environment Agency publish a summary report on the quality of bathing water, based on the information provided by Member States. The report tracks the water quality at 22 000 bathing sites across the EU, Switzerland and, for the first time in 2014, Albania.
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