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:
Flatenbadets barndel in Stockholm
Farstanäsbadet in Södertälje
Falsterbo strandbad in Vellinge
Strandbaden in Höganäs
Norderstrand in Visby
Stensjö badplats in Falkenberg
Träslövsläge in Varberg