Report: European bathing water quality remains high

Bathing water quality in Europe remains high, according to a study published Monday by the EU environment agency

The European Environment Agency, or EEA, said on Monday that on the 22,295 sites that were scrutinized, 84.6 percent had excellent water quality. The study covered the 27-nation bloc, the U.K., Albania and Switzerland.

“It's the result of hard work by many people over many years. This year's report once again confirms that European citizens can continue to enjoy very high quality standards when bathing in European waters and all measures must be taken to continue along this path."

A country-by-country breakdown showed that in five nations — Cyprus, Austria, Malta, Greece, and Croatia — at least 95 percent of bathing waters were of excellent quality. Of all the countries monitored, Poland was the only one with less than 50 percent of its bathing waters rated as excellent.

The EEA said the quality of bathing waters is generally better at coastal locations than at inland sites, with 87.4% of coastal bathing sites classified as excellent, compared with 79.1% of inland sites in the EU.

“Many central European inland bathing water sites are situated on relatively small lakes and ponds as well as low-flow rivers, which, especially in the summer, are more susceptible than coastal areas to short-term pollution caused by heavy summer rains,” the EEA said.

The agency also noticed a drop in the total of locations where bad water quality can result in illness. Just 1.3 percent of all sites in the EU got a poor rating last year, compared with 2 percent in 2013. In six European countries — Albania, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands and Slovakia — 3% or more of bathing waters were of poor quality.

Under the the European bathing water directive, bathing must be permanently prohibited or explicitly advised against at locations rated as poor for at least five straight years.

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