A new report by the European Environment Agency has revealed the best crystal clear water beaches in Europe, and fans of Cyprus, Malta, Croatia and Greece will be happy to see those countries have topped the list.
Encouragingly, the vast majority of Europe’s beaches, rivers and lakes were found to be generally of high quality in 2013, with 95 per cent meeting minimum requirements.
The best… and worst
Top marks were awarded to Cyprus and Luxembourg both of which were deemed ‘excellent’, as well as Malta (99%), Croatia (95%) and Greece (93%).
However at the other end of the scale, European Union Member States with the highest proportion of sites awarded a ‘poor’ status were Estonia (6%), the Netherlands (5%), Belgium (4%), France (3%), Spain (3%) and Ireland (3%).
This report comes out annually and is published by the European Environment Agency (EEA). It tracks the water quality at 22,000 bathing sites across the EU, Switzerland and for the first time, Albania.
The report comes with a useful interactive map showing how each bathing site performed in 2013.
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.”
Improvement…but still room for more improvement
Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, added: “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.”
Ecologists would point out that the bathing water ratings do not take into account litter, pollution or other aspects which harm our natural environment.