2021 report on bathing water quality in Europe released


The European Environment Agency's report on bathing water quality in 2021 has just been published. 84.8% of the sites monitored are said to be of "excellent quality", which could appear to be very good news. But as for years, Surfrider Foundation Europe deplores the lack of representativeness of these controls which only focus on bacteriological pollution during the summer season. 

Why is this not enough? 

If we schematize and simply stick to the criteria of the European directive today, we could be in the presence of an oil spill, a massive spill of plastic, and a bloom of toxic algae in the same area, and the water quality would be considered excellent in the annual classification of bathing areas. In fact, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency base this classification only on the presence of 2 fecal bacteria. 

In addition to considering only the bacteriological aspect of the pollution of coastal waters, the directive only requires controls from June 15 to September 15 on bathing areas and ignores areas of water sports. However, many water sports enthusiasts and coastal residents enjoy these waters all year round. 40% of the European population lives in coastal areas! 

Chemical pollution (hydrocarbons, drug residues, pesticides), aquatic waste, or algae are the great absentees of this report.

Surfrider asks for a real monitoring of water quality in Europe 

To address the limitations of the Directive, Surfrider has submitted to the European Commission, in June 2021, a European Manifesto for Healthy Waters. Surfrider calls on the European Union to reconsider the monitoring of bathing water quality on the basis of 7 recommendations to make the monitoring of bathing water quality in Europe truly efficient. 

As the revision of the directive is scheduled for 2023, it is important to make our voices heard this year so that our recommendations are heard. 

Finally, it is important to underline that this revision is part of a broader framework of the European Green Pact and the Zero Pollution Action Plan which calls for an environment free of toxic substances for citizens. The 2022 Annual Report recalls the benefits of healthy urban bathing waters and specifically notes the desire expressed by residents of urban areas to be able to swim in their city waters. "With the Green Pact and the Zero Pollution Action Plan, the Commission is making a real commitment. We are therefore counting on this general ambition to create a new strong Directive that will protect the health of the ocean and the health of Europeans" says Lucille Labayle.

Surfrider launches its own research 

Water quality is a major issue for Surfrider Foundation Europe, especially in relation to the health of users. For this reason, Surfrider does not wait for Europe and launches its own study projects. For example, to measure the exposure of water sports users to chemical pollution with the CURL project. Or its work on the monitoring of the Ostreopsis Ovata and Siamensis in the Mediterranean and on the south Atlantic coast in France. 

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