Bathing water policy and water quality is set by the EU and is important to protect human health and the environment.
Since the 1970s, the EU has had rules in place to safeguard public health and clean bathing waters. The revised Bathing Water Directive (BWD) of 2006 updated and simplified these rules. It requires members to monitor and assess the bathing water for at least two parameters of (faecal) bacteria. In addition, they must inform the public about bathing water quality and beach management, through the so-called bathing water profiles. These profiles contain for instance information on the kind of pollution and sources that affect the quality of the bathing water and are a risk to bathers’ health (such as waste water discharges).
In this light, the Commission introduced a symbol on bathing water classification in 2011.
The BWD also complements other environmental policy:
- the Water Framework Directive, under which bathing waters are one of the Protected Areas
- the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), in contributing to reaching “good environmental status” by 2020.