Swedish beaches flunk EU quality tests

baltic1The European Commission’s yearly report on the quality of Europe’s beaches has revealed that eight Swedish swimming areas did not meet the minimum water quality standards in 2008. Even so, the news isn’t all bad since the EU tested the water at 212 freshwater beaches and 258 coastal beaches in Sweden, and only eight failed.

Of the eight violators, six were coastal beaches and two were freshwater swimming areas. This is actually am improvement over the EU findings in 2007, when 23 Swedish beaches were found to have substandard water quality. Beaches are only tested if an average of 200 or more visitors go there each day.

The EU’s current standards for water quality at public swimming areas focus on the presence of the faecal bacteria Escherichia coli and Intestinal enterococci. The failed beaches from 2008 are Satrastrandsbadet on Lake Malaren in Stockholm, Flatenbadets barndel in Stockholm, Farstanasbadet in Sodertalje, Falsterbo strandbad in Vellinge, Strandbaden in Hoganas, Norderstrand in Visby, Stensjo badplats in Falkenberg, and Traslovslage in Varberg.

Even if a beach is red-listed by the EU doesn’t automatically mean it’s dangerous to swim in the water, according to The Local. It simply shows lower water quality levels than other swimming areas. Since the tests were from 2008, they don’t necessarily reflect the present quality of the water at those beaches either.

“Since last year’s bathing season we haven’t examined any of the sources of pollutants at Norderstrand. But if the beach received poor marks according to the EU bathing water directive, we’re obligated to look into it,” said Karolina Johansson, an inspector with the local environmental and health department to the TT news agency.