Swedish beaches are cleaner, but these are still too dirty

Nine Swedish public swimming spots have been found too dirty to pass EU quality targets, according to a key survey published by water authorities ahead of the summer season.

Swedish beaches are cleaner, but these are still too dirty
Sunbathers at Sibbarp's beach in 2013. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedes have a reputation for ditching their clothes and jumping in the sea and lakes as soon as the sun comes out in summer.

Now, they can do so with less risk to their health, after a survey found the bathing water, which hit the headlines after it was ranked among the poorest in the EU last summer, is getting cleaner.

The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (Havs- och vattenmyndigheten) researched 445 beaches that are so called 'EU beaches', which means they are part of the union's clean bathing water scheme and get water quality assessed on a regular basis.

Swimming spots are then given a stamp of 'excellent', 'good', 'satisfying' or 'poor', depending on the levels of e-coli bacteria and intestinal enterococci.

Nine Swedish beaches have been classified as 'poor' in the most recent survey ahead of the summer season, according to the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.

“There is no simple explanation as to why an EU bathing spot gets classified as 'poor' – it's all to do with local conditions. It could be because of birds, overflow of municipal wastewater, poorly functioning sewage systems, but also because of the bathers,” said the agency's researcher Katarina Vartia in a statement on Thursday.

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But there is light on the horizon. Last year 16 swimming spots failed the tests. And the number of beaches rated 'excellent' has gone up to 289 compared to 249 in 2015.

“I think it's great that it's looking better, we are very happy about that,” Vartia told the TT news agency.

The beaches that failed the test are Nickstabadet in Nynäshamn, Hälleviks' beach in Sölvesborg, Hamnhusen T-bryggan in Lomma, Barnviken at Sibbarp in Malmö, Hittarp and Fria bad in Helsingborg, Karlslund in Bollnäs, Björkäng in Varberg and Sörvik in Kungsbacka.