(AFP/JB) Landlocked Luxembourg has among the cleanest swimming spots in Europe, an EU-wide water quality audit has found.
Luxembourg topped the ranking in the report released on Wednesday, recording "good" or "excellent" water quality in all 11 of its outdoor wild swimming holes.
The tests concerned bathing water at the Remerschen swimming lake in south-east Luxembourg, and at 10 sites located around the Upper Sûre Lake in the mid-north of Luxembourg.
Other countries achieving excellent in at least 90 percent of swimming sites included
Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Germany and Austria.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) said that water quality at 96.1 percent of the 21,000 bathing spots covered by its 2015 bathing water survey was at acceptable levels, which was a rise of 0.9 percentage points from the previous year.
Across all of the sites monitored in the EU, Switzerland
and Albania, more than 84 percent of the sites surveyed were rated
"Several large tourist areas and cities like Blackpool, Copenhagen and Munich are... starting to benefit from investments in improved sewage systems, which are leading to cleaner bathing sites at harbour areas, urban river locations and nearby beaches," the agency said.
"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," EU Environment Commissioner
Karmenu Vella said in a statement.
Highest proportion of sites found in Italy & Spain
The highest number of sites with poor water quality were found in Italy (95), France (95) and Spain (58), according to the annual survey.
More than three percent of sites failed to meet the minimum quality standards in Britain (4.9 percent), Ireland (4.4 percent), the Netherlands (3.4 percent) and Bulgaria (3.2 percent), meaning they had the highest percentage of sites rated "poor".
"For recreational activities such as swimming, faecal contamination is a cause of concern for public health," the EEA said.
"The major sources of pollution are sewage and water draining from farms and farmland," it added.