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Water quality Switzerland in bottom half of European bathing waters league table

The 2018 Rhine swim event in the centre of Basel

Several thousand people took part in the 2018 Rhine swim event in the centre of Basel last August

(©keystone/georgios Kefalas)

Three-quarters of Switzerland’s bathing sites met the highest “excellent” European Union quality standard last year. However, the alpine nation was ranked below the European average. 

In all, 144 of the 192 bathing sites at Swiss lakes and rivers monitored by the European Environment Agency (EEA)external link last year had the EU’s highest “excellent” quality. Also, 12 were qualified as “good” or “sufficient”, and two “insufficient” – at Dorigny, opposite the University of Lausanne, and at the Pointe de la Bise, near Geneva, both on Lake Geneva. Around 30 sites were not given marks due to missing data.

In Switzerland, the water quality in lakes and rivers has improved significantly in recent decades. It is possible to swim almost anywhere without risk to your health. Only heavy rains can make swimming dangerous. 

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EU bathing water quality

The number of bathing sites across Europe with “excellent” water quality rose slightly to 85.1%, while the number with “poor” quality dropped to a total of 1.3% of all sites. 

Cyprus (99.1% of all sites), Malta (98.9%), Austria (97.3%), and Greece (97%) made up the top five. Switzerland was ranked 19th out of 31 European countries.

Italy (89 bathing water sites or 1.6%), France (54 sites or 1.6%) and Spain (50 sites or 2.2%) had the highest number of sites with “poor” water quality last year. Between 2017-2018, the number of poor sites rose in Italy (from 79 to 89), and in Spain (from 38 to 50), meanwhile, France saw an improvement with a drop in the number of “poor” bathing sites from 80 to 54.

Swimming season Leaping into summer

There are more than 500 outdoor and natural swimming pools in Switzerland. For many of them, the summer season has begun.


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