Cyprus has dropped from the top place of the European Environment Agency’s list classifying the best quality bathing waters in the EU.
In last year’s study, Cyprus had the best quality bathing waters for 2020, after having 112 coastal sites sampled passing with a perfect score of 100 per cent.
In this year’s European Environment Agency study on EU’s bathing water quality, Cyprus ranked fifth, numbering 112 ‘excellent’ sites out of 120, taking up a 93.3 per cent share but marking a drop of almost 7 per cent from last year.
Crucially, bathing waters with no quality classification make up a notable part of the study’s inventory because Covid-19 related restrictions, including prohibition of access to waters for bathing and sampling, prevented the gathering of those sample datasets.
The implication for Cyprus – as well as for a few other countries – is that 6.7 per cent of its inventory is missing sample datasets leading to a negative impact on its previous classification. Moreover, in comparison to last year’s study, Cyprus has now introduced eight additional sites, all unclassified.
In essence, compared to last year, the classification of Cypriot waters has not changed and remains excellent notwithstanding the drop from the top.
Regarding the overall picture, bathing water quality in the EU has been improving continuously since the adoption of the Bathing Water Directive in 2006 and currently remains high, with 95.2 per cent of sites sampled meeting the minimum water quality standards.
Austria ranked first, numbering 255 ‘excellent’ sites with a 97.7 per cent share, Malta ranked second with 84 ‘excellent’ sites and a 96.6 per cent share, Greece numbered 1,612 ‘excellent’ sites with a 95.8 per cent share and Croatia ranked fourth, with 895 ‘excellent’ sites taking up an 87.5 per cent share.
In addition, the share of poor-quality sites has dropped since 2013 from 2 per cent to 1.5 per cent marking an improvement in the management of poor bathing sites.
The countries with the biggest share of poor-quality sites are Albania with eight sites (6.7 per cent), the Netherlands with 34 sites (4.6 per cent), Latvia with two sites (3.6 per cent), Sweden with 16 sites (3.5 per cent), Slovakia with one site (3.1 per cent), and France with 99 sites (3 per cent).