Bulgaria’s coastal bathing waters remain up to the European Union’s mandatory standards, with a growing ratio of spots meeting the higher “guide values”, according to the latest European Environment Agency (EEA) annual report on the quality of bathing waters in the EU.
The sole exception, among 94 spots sampled by the agency in Bulgaria, that did not meet EEA’s mandatory values is the Ofitserski Plazh in the port city of Varna – this being the second time in three years that the location did not meet the minimum standards.
Overall, 94 per cent of bathing sites in the European Union meet minimum standards for water quality, including 96.8 per cent of coastal waters (99 per cent in Bulgaria’s case). Water quality is excellent at 82.6 per cent of sites and 85.2 per cent of coastal sites – in Bulgaria’s case, the figure was only 66 per cent of all sites, an improvement from 63.4 per cent a year earlier, but still well below the 85.1 per cent ratio of excellent bathing waters recorded in 2010.
Cyprus and Luxembourg once again had all listed bathing sites achieving excellent water quality, followed by Malta (98.8 per cent), Croatia (94.9 per cent) and Greece (93.2 per cent) – but the latter two also had some bathing waters with poor or non-compliant bathing waters (three bathing waters in Croatia and five in Greece). The highest rates of poor or non-compliant bathing waters have been found in Estonia (5.7 per cent), the Netherlands (5.1 per cent), Belgium (3.5 per cent), France (3.5 per cent), Spain (3.3 per cent) and Ireland (three per cent).
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “It’s good that the quality of European bathing waters continues to be of a high standard. But we cannot afford to be complacent with such a precious resource as water. We must continue to ensure that our bathing and drinking water as well as our aquatic ecosystems are fully protected.”
EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx said”Europe’s bathing water has improved over the last two decades – we are no longer discharging such high quantities of sewage directly into water bodies. Today’s challenge comes from short-term pollution loads during heavy rain and flooding. This can overflow sewage systems and wash faecal bacteria from farmland into the rivers and seas.”
Every year, the European Environment Agency (EEA) compiles bathing water data gathered by local authorities at more than 22 000 sites across the 28 European Union member states, Switzerland and, starting this year, 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.
Each annual report is based on data from the previous bathing season, so this year’s report is a compilation of data gathered in the summer of 2013.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)