Saturday May 25, 2024

2 Helsinki beaches face closure risk due to poor hygienic quality

Published : 21 Nov 2023, 23:48

  DF Report
The beach of Pikkukoski has been classified as poor for four swimming seasons. Photo: Lotta Kivikoski/City of Helsinki.

The swimming water of Helsinki beaches was mainly of good hygienic quality during the 2023 swimming season but the hygienic quality of the Marjaniemi and Pikkukoski beaches was classified as poor for the fourth consecutive swimming season, said the City of Helsinki in a press release on Tuesday.

If the swimming water is classified as poor for five consecutive swimming seasons, the beach must be closed for at least one swimming season.

This may become necessary for the Marjaniemi and Pikkukoski beaches in the 2025 swimming season.

The City of Helsinki's Environmental Health Unit monitored the hygiene of beaches and the quality of swimming water during the swimming season from June 15 to August 31, 2023.

Helsinki has 25 public beaches, of which 12 are large and 13 are small.

A total of 148 swimming water samples were taken during the summer and the swimming water in Helsinki was mainly of good hygienic quality.

About 95% of the samples taken from beaches in the seaside were of good quality. Frequent rainfall reduced the quality of swimming water, especially at the beaches along the Vantaanjoki river, where all samples taken in the heavy rain were of poor hygienic quality.

The number and prevalence of blue-green algae in beach water was normal during the summer. Climate change and warming waters increase the risk of water-borne epidemics on beaches.

So far, no epidemics caused by the swimming water of Helsinki beaches have come to light.

The water quality classifications of the Rastila and Iso Kallahti beaches improved in comparison to the 2022 swimming season.

After the 2023 swimming season, the Rastila beach is classified as satisfactory and the Iso Kallahti beach as good.

The City of Helsinki Environmental Services will monitor the water quality of the Marjaniemi and Pikkukoski beaches in an enhanced manner during the summer of 2024. Enhanced water quality monitoring will also be carried out at the beaches of Aurinkolahti, Hietaranta, Lauttasaari and Rastila, whose water quality is classified as satisfactory, as well as the beach of Iso Kallahti, whose water quality has been satisfactory or poor in previous years.

In addition to enhanced monitoring, extensive assessments have been carried out with the help of various actors on beaches classified as poor or satisfactory in order to improve the water quality of these beaches.

Beach water quality has been found to deteriorate particularly due to rainwater draining near the beaches. The hygienic water quality of the beaches along the Vantaanjoki river – the Pikkukoski, Pakila and Tapaninvainio beaches – has been found to deteriorate due to heavy rainfall.

Water samples are regularly taken from beaches during the summer, and the hygienic quality of water is monitored by searching for faecal bacteria in the water samples.

In addition to sampling, other factors monitored on the beaches include water temperature and the amount of blue-green algae and any other deviations. Public beaches are regularly inspected in accordance with the Health Protection Act.

The municipal health protection authority must draw up a list of public beaches before the start of each swimming season.