Expatica news

EU wades in to Belgium over dirty beaches

27 May 2005

BRUSSELS – The quality of bathing water in Belgium is getting worse, according to the European Commission.

In its annual report on EU beaches, the Commission said in 2004 a beach in Wenduine (located in Flanders, between popular resorts Ostend and Knokke-Heist) didn’t even meet the minimum conditions, which earned the label “acceptable”.

The previous year, all Belgian beaches met the minimum standards.

The Commission also criticised Belgium, along with Italy, for cheating bathers on the issue of cleanliness. It said, instead of improving bathing areas affected by pollution, it had simply taken them off its official list.

In 2004, Belgium banned bathers from using 8.3 percent of its inland sites, such as lakes and rivers, whereas none were off-limits in the previous year.

Overall in Belgium, 96.7 percent of coastal water was considered safe, but inland waters were only 89.4 percent acceptable, compared to 92.3 percent in the previous report.

In Wallonia, in particular, inland waters decreased in quality in 2004. In 2003, 84 percent of areas were judged “acceptable”, but the following year only 73 percent.

The number of bathing waters which were rated good quality also fell – from 47 percent to 40 percent.

The Commission did, however, point out that heavy rainfall in the summer of 2004 could have periodically influenced the quality of Wallonia’s rivers and lakes. It stated that it was also looking forward to seeing the results of Walloon decrees aiming to improve water quality, which were introduced in 2003.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news