Bulgaria scores well on EU bathing waters survey, but fewer ‘excellent’ sites

Bulgaria’s coastal bathing waters remain up to the European Union’s mandatory standards, but the number of sites meeting the “excellent quality” standards recorded a drop in 2020, the latest European Environment Agency (EEA) annual report on the quality of bathing waters in the EU, released on June 1, showed.

Out of 96 bathing sites in Bulgaria, all but one met the “good quality” standards. The one site that was not classified was the Rossenets-Sever beach just south of Bourgas, which was a newly-identified location.

For a second year running, there were no sites that scored as “poor quality”. The Ofitserski Plazh in the port city of Varna, which was in that category for six years running and then was not classified in last year’s report, now was rated as “good quality”.

There were also no sites rated as “sufficient quality”, down from four in last year’s report.

A total of 60.4 per cent of sites tested by the EEA in Bulgaria scored as “excellent quality” in 2020 (down from 65.3 per cent a year earlier), and 38.5 per cent were “good quality” (up from 29.5 per cent).

Bulgaria’s share of “excellent quality” bathing waters was the third-lowest registered in the EU in 2020, when 82.8 per cent of all the bloc’s bathing waters met such criteria, two percentage points lower than recorded a year earlier.

A further 10.2 per cent of the EU bathing waters scored as good or sufficient quality, while 1.3 per cent scored poorly and 3.7 per cent could not be properly assessed due to insufficient data.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for environment, fisheries and oceans, hailed the report’s findings and said: “This is the result of more than 40 years of Bathing Water Directive, hard work by dedicated professionals and cooperation. The Zero Pollution Action Plan adopted in May will help to keep the waters healthy and safe and our seas and rivers clean.”

Every year, the EEA compiles bathing water data gathered by local authorities across the 27 European Union member states, the United Kingdom, 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.

The full report is available here and an interactive map of all bathing sites covered by the report can be seen here.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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