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EU gives failing grade to eight Swedish beaches

TT/The Local · 12 Jun 2009, 09:14

Published: 12 Jun 2009 09:14 GMT+02:00

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Last year, the water at 258 coastal and 212 freshwater public beaches in Sweden was tested by the EU.

Following the tests, six coastal beaches and two freshwater beaches received a failing grade from the Commission.

Significantly fewer beaches failed to meet EU water quality standards in comparison to the 23 beaches named in the 2007 report, but then the Commission tested 847 beaches, nearly twice as many as were tested for the 2008 recent report.

Now beaches are only tested if they are frequented by an average of at least 200 guests per day.

According to the EU’s most recent set of water quality standards for public bathing areas, the levels of two sets of fecal bacteria are to be measured: Intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli bacteria.

Norderstrand beach near Visby on the island of Gotland is one of the beaches which failed to meet EU standards.

“Since last year’s bathing season we haven’t examined any of the sources of pollutants at Norderstrand. But if the beach received poor marks according to the EU bathing water directive, we’re obligated to look into it," said Karolina Johansson, an inspector with the local environmental and health department,” to the TT news agency.

“Nothing is planned right now, but we’ll get on it once we read through the report.”

Just because a public beach has been “red-listed” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s dangerous to swim there, but rather it shows that it has lower water quality than other bathing areas.

“If there’s a little E. coli in the water, it’s not going to affect you at all if you don’t drink it, and you normally don’t take it the amount of water needed [for there to be any effect],” said Håkan Marklund, head of bathing area supervision with Sweden’s Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket).

He also explained that the results from tests performed last year also don’t necessarily have any bearing on the quality of water at Swedish beaches this year.

The following beaches failed to comply with the EU’s bathing water quality standards in 2008:

Sätrastrandsbadet N on Lake Mälaren in Stockholm

Flatenbadets barndel in Stockholm

Farstanäsbadet in Södertälje

Falsterbo strandbad in Vellinge

Story continues below…

Strandbaden in Höganäs

Norderstrand in Visby

Stensjö badplats in Falkenberg

Träslövsläge in Varberg

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TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:08 June 12, 2009 by whattodo?
How sweet and thoughful of the EU to wear a pretty face by coming and testings Swedens water for us. Isn't that something we can do for ourselves here in our own country? The EU is just trying to make points by looking as if it cares about the environment. Swedish researchers are fully capable of filling test tubes with water samples, bringing them to a lab, analyzing them, and determining a course of action.
17:24 June 12, 2009 by karex
This is nothing but political pressure. Of course Sweden can test its own waters. However, if Sweden is not complying with some EU directives and possibly will not in the near future (such as the state monopoly on the sale of alcohol and other "sacred cows"), what better way to "punish the naughty child" than to go straight for the jugular? Looks quite bad for a country who holds preserving the environment and a clean way of living almost as a religion.

The bad marketing is intentional in my opinion. They want to send Sweden a message.
18:14 June 12, 2009 by spy
Or perhaps it is just a fair assesment. .

And some Swedish quarters just can't bear criticsm of self proclaimed 'paradise'.
19:32 June 12, 2009 by karex
No doubt it should be a fair assessment. I find it hard to believe that the EU would stoop to falsifying reports. The question is: how valid is the idea of such an assesment anyway? I mean, don't they have better things to spend their money on? That's why I questioned the real motive behind the initiative.
20:15 June 12, 2009 by Nemesis
This is actually a good thing on the part of the EU.

Looks like some major sewage works in Sweden, need major overhauls, proper mainenance and possibly rebuilt. Someone has not been doing there job. This should have been picke dup long before the EU picked up on it as they always five years behind when everyone else knows it for a fact.

Sweden, can now stop hiding behind false images and start doing something about a practical problem on the ground.
01:41 June 13, 2009 by RoyceD
nicely said Nemesis, this is not a topic that should be derailed by talk of political motivation. The subject is that there are beaches where it is unsafe to swim. We are the only ones who can stop ourselves from killing the world we live in, we must act, it is our responsibility.
07:21 June 13, 2009 by richardbw
The EU 'Blue Flag' beaches are a a hotly discussed topic throughout the EU. My parents live on the south coast of England and they have the same complaints/political arguments (EU punishment of a more eurosceptic state). In particular, the local government complain like mad when a beach 'fails' the EU tests and advertise like mad the beaches that pass the tests. My wife is from France and it is exactly the same there. Gosh, maybe we are more alike than we like to admit...
08:55 June 13, 2009 by Puffin
Is it really such a big deal that 8 out of 470 tested beaches fail the test?
09:18 June 13, 2009 by jack sprat
The Blue Flag incentive is one of the few useful things the EU has achieved.

Many shabby and dirty beach areas have been transformed throughout Europe.

Amazing what a ittle negative publicity can achieve.

Likewise the positive publicity is a great selling point or attraction for beaches with Blue Flag status.

Long may it continue.
19:33 June 15, 2009 by spy
I must admit I was probably to blame - I was caught short and just had to lay cable.
19:48 June 15, 2009 by nlidukdese
If one of those eight happens to be the one where your kids go to play, then yes, I think it would be a big deal.

I'm glad the EU makes a point of maintaining the same minimum standards across all member states. As much as I'd like to think that individual countries can take care of maintaining and testing bathing-water quality themselves, reality appears to be different, even in Sweden.

Potential conflicts between public health and tourism revenues should not tempt the odd local politician to ignore existing standards and be anything less than honest. Irrespective if it's Spain, Romania or Sweden.
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