Water at nearly all of Europe’s beaches – and most of its rivers and lakes – are clean enough to swim in. And the quality is improving.
If you're planning a trip to the beach this year you can rest easy – the water at 95% of beaches is clean enough to meet minimum EU standards. Of bathing sites in rivers and lakes, 91% make the grade.
In the latest report, most sites were given an excellent rating for 2012 – the same proportion as in 2011. But more managed a “sufficient” rating than in the previous year.
2012 water testing
The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) annual bathing water report looked at samples from more than 22 000 bathing sites around Europe.
Water was tested for harmful pollutants and bacteria, such as E. coli – possibly from sewage or livestock waste.
Best... and worst performers
The top performers in 2012 were Cyprus and Luxembourg, with all listed bathing sites found to be “excellent”. Malta, Croatia and Greece were the next best, with over 90% rated “excellent”.
The worst performers in terms of not meeting minimum standards were Belgium (13%), the Netherlands (7%) and the United Kingdom (6%).
In the UK, 58.2% of 629 bathing sites tested were excellent, 35.6% were of good or sufficient quality, but 37 fell short of the required minimum.
Although water quality has improved overall, both the Commission and the EEA want more to be done to ensure all the EU’s waters are suitable for bathing and drinking. This means cutting down on pollution from sewage, improving water drainage from farms and farmland and better control of animal waste affecting beaches.
Going for a swim?
Check the quality rating before you head out
Download data and check interactive maps
Look out for these symbols where you swim
Report the state of water in your area