Come on in, the water's lovely
Good and bad news if you're planning to splash around on your European holiday this year; water quality levels have declined slightly but remain high.
The European Union says that more than 90% of bathing sites in the Union are better than the minimum safety requirements.
Cleanest of all is Cyprus, where every beach meets water standards. Croatia, Malta, Greece and Ireland all have more than 90% of their bathing sites hitting the required level.
The news comes in the annual Bathing Water Report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission. More than 21,000 bathing sites, both coastal and inland were surveyed across 27 countries. Signs at bathing sites will let visitors know whether they're up to scratch or not.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said: "I am glad to see that the quality of Europe's bathing waters remains high, although there is room for improvement. Clean water is a priceless resource, and we should not take it for granted. I would encourage Member States to ensure we turn the slight decline we experiencing last year into an upward trend."
Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, said: "Clean water for swimming is very important for EU citizens, and this information will allow them to demand the highest quality water in lakes, rivers and beaches. Public participation is essential for the continued monitoring of Europe's bathing water, especially as the effects of climate change become more visible."
Of the waters tested only 1.2% of coastal bathing water and 2.8% of inland sites didn't meet the standards. The survey is not comprehensive and some sites remain unclassified.
The number of bathing water bodies meeting the mandatory values fell by 3.5%, while those meeting guide values fell by 9.5% from 2009 to 2010. The waters were murkier inland, with the number of rivers and lakes achieving the guide values fell by 10.2%. Only 25% of river bathing waters hit the guide values.
Top Image: Sea caves near Cape Greko, Cyprus. © volmart