Myths & truths about coastal bathing waters

 

Myths Truths
The sea is dirty because the beach is full of seaweed. This is not seaweeds, but a sea plant, known as Posidonia which grows exclusively in clean waters. When Posidonia leaves grow old, they turn brown and fall off the plant. At the same time, the plant develops new leaves. Senescent leaves are carried away by waves and washed up on the shore as brown ribbons.
The bathing waters are not controlled by any government body. The Ministry of Environment, Energy & Climate Change (MEECC), as the competent authority  has constantly monitored the quality of water at bathing sites since 1988, within the framework of the  «Monitoring Programme of bathing waters quality». Every year, the MEECC also samples and analysis microbiological parameters at monitoring points throughout the bathing season.
The beaches are unsuitable for bathing. Based on the results of this Monitoring Programme and in accordance with the legislation, bathing water is classified as: a) excellent; b) good; c) sufficient; or d) insufficient.
A single sample of water is sufficient to characterize the quality of bathing waters. Every year, six samples of water are taken at evenly distributed intervals during the bathing season. At the end of the bathing season.Every year, six samples of water are taken at evenly distributed intervals  A the  the water is classified, its quality status determined, and the results of the analysis of the current year are compared with those of the preceding three years.
Only Clean beaches are awarded the Blue Flag. Almost every beach that is being monitored has excellent water quality, which is a prerequisite for the Blue Flag Award. Nevertheless, not all beaches participate in the Blue Flag Awards programme. In order to take part in the programme, a beach is required to comply with several criteria, not all of which are related to the quality of the bathing water.
The water is not clean, yet the appropriate measures are not taken. In the case of short-term pollution, sampling is repeated after three days to determine that the incident has ended. Otherwise, the competent authorities, inform the public and measures are taken to identify, evaluate and reduce the causes of pollution. Temporary prohibition of bathing is imposed if needed.

 

Alexaki Efrosini, Chemist
George Arvanitidis, Special Secretariat for Wate, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change