From: Associated Press
Published May 27, 2005 12:00 AM

Water Quality in Rivers, Lakes Worsening, EU Report Finds

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The quality of water in Europe's rivers and lakes used for swimming and water sports has worsened over the past year, with one in 10 not up to standards, the European Union head office said Thursday.


Coastal areas have fared better, with 96.7 percent of swimming sites complying with EU standards, the European Commission said in a report.


Greece has the cleanest coastal waters, followed by Spain and Germany, while Lithuania and Estonia have the dirtiest, according to the report.


Slovakia showed the lowest compliance with EU guidelines for freshwater areas, with only 22.4 percent of bathing sites up to the standards.


Belgium, Luxembourg and the six new EU member states that provided data also scored low on the quality of bathing waters.


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The Commission said some member states delete dirty bathing sites from the list of designated bathing areas rather than clean them up, making them no longer subject to monitoring.


Also, bathing is banned indefinitely at some noncompliant sites with no action being taken to bring the areas up to the standards.


The Commission's annual report follows a call by the European Parliament for cleaner beaches, lakes and rivers and stricter rules to control water pollution.


EU lawmakers are pressing for a directive that would tighten water-pollution regulations and provide for simpler testing methods, allowing governments to better inform their citizens about pollution levels in lakes and rivers and the waters off beaches.


The new EU directive that lawmakers want would update a 1976 EU law, forcing governments to come up with surveillance and emergency response plans in case of pollution crises.


Source: Associated Press


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