Indicator water

Bathing water quality

The assessment of bathing waters is made on the basis of hygienic quality using E.coli and intestinal enterococci. They provide indications on the effectiveness of water protection measures and in particular the extent to which waste water treatment plants are fulfilling their function. Good hygienic quality of bathing water is essential to ensure that the population can bathe in rivers and lakes without any risk to health.

Poor quality 2018: 1.2658 Sufficient quality 2018: 1.2658 Good quality 2018: 6.3291 Excellent quality 2018: 91.1392 Poor quality 2017: 0 Sufficient quality 2017: 4 Good quality 2017: 3.2 Excellent quality 2017: 92.8 Poor quality 2016: 1.93548387096774 Sufficient quality 2016: 1.29032258064516 Good quality 2016: 3.2258064516129 Excellent quality 2016: 93.5483870967741 Poor quality 2015: 2.60869565217391 Sufficient quality 2015: 0.869565217391304 Good quality 2015: 1.7391304347826 Excellent quality 2015: 94.7826086956521 Poor quality 2014: 2.94117647058823 Sufficient quality 2014: 1.47058823529411 Good quality 2014: 1.47058823529411 Excellent quality 2014: 94.1176470588235 Poor quality 2013: 0 Sufficient quality 2013: 0 Good quality 2013: 6.15384615384615 Excellent quality 2013: 93.8461538461538
Quality classes, as % of all evaluable bathing water according to the EEA method (hygienic evaluation)

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: Cantonal agencies

Source:
Comment

Thanks to various preventive measures and major efforts in waste water treatment over the last few decades, the bathing water quality of Swiss rivers and lakes is very good today: It is possible to bathe in lakes and rivers in Switzerland almost everywhere without any health risks.

Only after heavy rainfall or during flooding is it advisable not to bathe in rivers: bacteria adhere to suspended particles and these may be ingested by bathers if they swallow the water. In the case of rivers and streams which act as receiving water courses for waste water treatment plants, increased volumes of waste water may be introduced as a result of storm overflows and can adversely affect hygienic conditions.

In the case of bathing water of limited quality, in accordance with the Waters Protection Ordinance, the authorities must take measures such as better water protection, upgrading of wastewater treatment plants or closing direct discharges, or explicitly advising against bathing. It can therefore be assumed that there will be a positive development in the quality of bathing water in the future.

International comparison

Compared with other European countries, the quality of Swiss bathing water is very good: As is the case in only a few other countries, even major rivers and lakes in Switzerland are inviting bathing waters with outstanding quality.

Method

Assessment of bathing water quality is carried out on the basis of cantonal water monitoring data relating to the hygienic parameters E. coli and intestinal enterococci (faecal bacteria). The EEA classification system applies to the quality assessment according to the EU Bathing Water Directive of 2006 (see table 3, section 7 of the Recommendation for the Assessment of Bathing Waters).The EEA classification can only be calculated on the basis of a series of measurements of at least four bathing seasons, with four samples per season.

 
Last updated on: 31.01.2020

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