The number of coastal bathing waters in Bulgaria that meet the European Union’s higher “guide values” showed a small decrease in 2015, according to the latest European Environment Agency (EEA) annual report on the quality of bathing waters in the EU.
Last year, 67 of the 94 locations sampled by the EEA met the “guide values”, compared to 69 a year earlier, but also higher than the 62 bathing waters of excellent quality recorded in 2013.
The number of bathing spots failing to meet mandatory values remained the same, three, the most notable of them being Ofitserski Plazh in the port city of Varna – which was on the list for the third time in five years, having also failed the test in 2013 and 2011. The other two sites that scored poorly were the Tsentralen Plazh in the Black Sea port of Varna (the first time it failed the test since 2007) and the Tsentralen Plazh in the resort village of Lozenets (the first time it failed the test).
Two other beaches that failed to meet the mandatory requirements in 2014, the Psov beach in the Zlatni Pyassutsi (Golden Sands) resort and the Popski Plazh in Tsarevo, close to Bulgaria’s border with Turkey, both showed an improvement to “sufficient quality”.
Overall, this means that 96.8 per cent of Bulgaria’s bathing spots met minimum EU requirements, the same ratio as last year, while the spots with excellent quality decreased from 73.4 per cent to 71.3 per cent. In the EU as a whole, 83.3 per cent of all bathing spots scored excellent marks, the report said.
Luxembourg was the only country to score excellent marks on all listed bathing sites (although it also has the lowest number of sites at 11), followed by Cyprus with 99.1 per cent and Malta with 97.7 per cent of all bathing waters scoring excellent marks.
The highest number of poor or non-compliant bathing waters have been found in Italy and France, with 95 sites each, or 1.7 per cent of the total in Italy and 2.8 per cent in the case of France. Overall, 383 bathing spots fell short of the mandatory standards and 592 could not be assessed, out of a total of 21 282 locations covered by the report.
Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the environment said: “European bathing water is at 96 per cent acceptable and 84 per cent excellent standards. That is the result of 40 years investing in water and waste water infrastructure. It is a sign of EU legislation working well.”
Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, said: “Our assessment shows that bathing water quality has improved remarkably over the years. More and more bathing waters have not only reached the minimum requirements, but have improved to excellent standards. In some cities, people can even enjoy swimming in public harbour baths.”
The EU published its first bathing water directive in 1976 and revised it in 2006. According to EEA data, there has been a drastic improvement in the quality of Europe’s bathing waters over the past 25 years: in 1991, only 56 per cent of bathing water sites reached the highest standards, while 25 per cent failed to meet the minimum requirements set by EU directives.
Every year, the European Environment Agency compiles bathing water data gathered by local authorities across the 28 European Union member states, Switzerland and Albania – measuring levels of bacteria from sewage and livestock. More than two thirds of sites are coastal beaches, with rivers and lakes making up the remainder.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)