An overwhelming number — 95.4% — of the 21 831 bathing water sites monitored in the 28 EU Member States met the minimum quality requirements under EU rules, according to this year's report by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA). In addition, 300 bathing sites monitored in Albania and Switzerland were also included in the report.

In four countries, 95% or more of bathing sites were found to have excellent water quality: Cyprus (99.1% of all sites), Malta (98.9% of all sites), Austria (97.3% of all sites), and Greece (97% of all sites).

All reported bathing water sites in Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, and Slovenia were of at least sufficient quality in 2018.

The three countries with the highest numbers of poor quality bathing water sites are Italy (89 bathing water sites or 1.6%), France (54 sites or 1.6%) and Spain (50 sites or 2.2%). In comparison with 2017, the number of poor quality bathing water sites in France decreased (from 80 in 2017 to 54 in 2018), while there was an increase in poor quality bathing waters in Italy (from 79 to 89) and in Spain (from 38 to 50).

Bathing water quality

According to the report, in the season 2018, Lithuania identified and reported 117 bathing waters, which is 0.5% of all bathing waters in Europe. 99 had excellent quality, 11 - good, 2 - sufficient, 1 - poor, and 4 - not classified.

Bathing water quality
n the season 2018,
Lithuania
identified and reported
117
bathing waters
, which is
0.5%
of all bathing waters
in EuropeThe level of bathing sites meeting the most stringent ‘excellent' quality standards rose slightly from 85.0% in 2017 to 85.1% last year. The number of those meeting the minimum ‘sufficient' standing fell from 96% to 95.4% from 2017 to 2018. This minor drop is mostly due to the opening of new bathing waters sites for which the dataset of four bathing seasons required for the classification by the Directive is not yet available. In 2018, 301 (or 1.3%) of all bathing water sites in the EU, Albania and Switzerland were rated as having ‘poor' water quality. This is slightly lower than the 1.4 % in 2017.Bathing water requirements are set out in the EU's Bathing Water Directive. Implementation of its rules has helped to vastly improve the quality of Europe's bathing water over the last 40 years. Effective monitoring and management introduced under the directive combined with the investments in the urban waste water treatment have led to a drastic reduction in untreated or partially treated municipal and industrial waste ending up in the water. Under the rules, local authorities collect water samples at officially identified bathing sites throughout the swimming season. Samples are analysed for two types of bacteria that indicate pollution from sewage or livestock.