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91% bathing water in Finland found to be good

06 Jun 2019, 17:51 ( 9 days ago) | updated: 07 Jun 2019, 09:45 ( 9 days ago)

DF Report
City of Helsinki photo by Anneli Hongisto.

Public bathing water in Finland is of good quality, said the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) citing the European Environment Agency’s bathing water report.

Most of the country's bathing water, that is over 91 per cent, was classified as being of either excellent or good quality. Approximately two per cent of Finland’s bathing water was categorised in the 'sufficient water quality' class. The water quality of only one beach was described as poor.

According to the report, the microbiological quality of Finnish bathing water has either remained on the same level or improved slightly.

"The water quality of certain individual coastal and inland beaches has been improved over the past few years. The quality of bathing water can improve remarkably when the flow of wastewater to the beach is prevented and the turnover of water is enhanced. However, it should be kept in mind that even high-quality bathing water is not drinkable," said THL Senior Planning Officer Outi Zacheus.

The quality of bathing water can be classified if the water’s concentrations of bacteria indicating intestinal contamination have been monitored regularly over four swimming seasons. The monitoring of bacteria concentrations enables, for example, assessing the impact of wastewater on the bathing water.

European beaches’ basic data, bathing water bacteria monitoring results and bathing water classification based on the monitoring are accessible through the European Environment Agency’s online services.

The services can be used for inspecting the bathing water quality development of a planned holiday destination or as background data for the official supervision of bathing water quality. The long-term monitoring of individual bacteria results allows the authorities to evaluate the changes to bathing water quality.

However, the online services’ data is not updated during the swimming season. Information on the water quality is provided at the beaches and, for example, on municipalities' websites.

Even though municipal health protection authorities monitor the occurrence of blue algae in bathing water, the abundance or frequency of blue algae occurrences is not taken into account when defining bathing water quality, and blue algae results are not included in the report.

THL reports the results of municipal health protection authorities' bathing water monitoring to the European Commission annually. The recently published report is based on the monitoring in the swimming seasons of 2015–2018. The report consolidates country-specific bathing water quality summaries and the monitoring results of total 22,000 European beaches.

In the summer of 2018, Finland had a total of 301 public beaches, 225 of which were inland and 76 coastal beaches.