big fat clean beach
News, 12 June 2009
Greece has the third cleanest beaches in Europe, behind only Cyprus
and Lithuania, says an EU- wide report on water quality.
According to the findings of the survey, published on June 11, 97.7
percent of beaches in Greece meet EU standards for water cleanliness.
A total of 2,094 beaches were inspected between June and November 2008.
Only two beaches did not pass the EU's test.
"High-quality swimming water is essential for the wellbeing of European
citizens and the environment - and this goes for all other bodies of
water, too," Stavros Dimas, European commissioner for the environment,
told reporters during the release of the report in Brussels. "I am
pleased to see that the overall quality of water in swimming areas
is improving throughout the union."
The results are based on sampling carried out by the national authorities
in all EU member states and checked against a set of physical, chemical
and microbiological parameters, These include testing for the presence
of coliform bacteria associated with faeces and other sources, the
colour of the water, residues of petrol-based mineral oils, foam from
detergents and toxic acids such as phenol.
More than 21,000 swimming sites were tested in the 27 member states.
The largest number of coastal waters for swimming are found in Greece,
Italy, France, Spain and Denmark. Germany and France have the most
Overall in 2008, 96.3 percent of Europe’s coastal swimming waters and
92 percent of inland waters met the minimum water quality standards
set by the European Bathing Water Directive. This is an improvement
on 2007. A new EU-wide water directive took effect in 2UI]6. It places
greater emphasis on providing information to the public on the quality
of swimming areas.
Member states have until 2015 to fully implement the new directive.
Only 12 member states - Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany,
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden
- are already enforcing the directive.
According to Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European
Environment Agency, the report is a tool to enable citizens and tourists
to check the quality of beach water in their local community or holiday
"But also to allow them to get more actively involved in the protection
of their environment," she added.
Information System for Europe