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Denmark's waters are cleaner than ever

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Denmark's waters are cleaner than ever
Danish beaches are cleaner than ever. Photo: Old Dane/ Wikipedia
11:29 CEST+02:00
Jump on in, the water is fine! In fact, it's cleaner than it's ever been.

The annual bathing water report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) has great news for beach goers in Denmark. 

The report reveals that 98.4 percent of the nation's coastal and inland bathing waters in Denmark meet the agency's sufficient water quality standards, while 85.7 percent have "excellent water quality".

Click on map for larger version. Story continues below.

The numbers represent Denmark's highest ever ranking since water quality began being tested.

"Bathing water quality in Denmark sets new records year after year. That's great news for water lovers and the tourism industry," Environment Minister Esben Lunde Larsen said in a statement. 

"We have thousands of kilometres of beautiful coasts and we once again have the EU's word that the bathing water quality is tip-top," he added. 

Denmark's beaches follow a continental trend that across Europe, bathing waters are getting cleaner. The vast majority - 96.1 percent – of some 21,000 swimming spots met the EU's minimum requirements for water quality last year, according to the report.

The process for EEA verification, lengthy and detailed, includes taking samples throughout the bathing season, which in Denmark traditionally runs from June 1st until September 1 for a total of 93 days.

Experts monitor for two bacteria, Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci; finding them in the water may indicate the presence of pollution coming from sewage and animal waste and faeces. More than 1,000 bathing sties were reported in Denmark for 2015, representing 4.8 percent of all bathing locations in Europe. In order to achieve a comfortable level of assurance that the data is correct, nine samples were taken per site on average in Denmark.

Denmark's climb from 93.5 percent “sufficient” coastal bathing waters in 2012 to 98.4 percent in 2015 is attributed in part to investments made in the Copenhagen area to improve the sewage system.

Other European cities such as Blackpool in England and Munich in Germany have also made comparable investments yielding similar results.

“For recreational activities such as swimming, faecal contamination is a cause of concern for public health. The major sources of pollution are sewage and water draining from farms,” said the European Environment Agency in a release.

Overall, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Germany and Austria have the best swimming spots with over 90 percent of their sites ranked as excellent in terms of water quality.  

“European bathing water is at 96 percent acceptable and 84 percent excellent standards. That is the result of 40 years investing in water and waste water infrastructure,” said EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella in a statement.

By contrast, only 56 percent of sites had reached the "excellent" level in 1991, the EEA said.
 
According to the report, no short-term pollution or abnormal situations were reported by Danish authorities for the 2015 bathing season. The country report on Denmark's bathing waters can be found here
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