The water quality in Germany's lakes and rivers is excellent

The water quality in Germany's lakes and rivers is excellent

With good weather finally upon us, many people are probably thinking longingly of taking a dip in one of Germany’s best outdoor swimming spots. The good news is that the water quality in the federal republic’s lakes and rivers has once again been rated as excellent. 

Clean waters beckon at Germany’s outdoor bathing spots

The water quality at Germany’s bathing spots continues to be predominantly excellent. That’s according to a new report presented by the European Environment Agency EEA this week, which found that 89,9 percent of all the German lakes, rivers and coastal waters analysed in 2020 had excellent water quality, while more than 96 percent met the EU’s minimum standards. 

These values are slightly lower than last year’s report - but the main reason for this is the fact that more locations than usual could not be adequately analysed and thus classified, due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. In European comparison, Germany is still in the upper middle range for water quality. 

Only 11 sites in Germany rated poor on water quality

Only at 11 of the 2.304 bathing sites examined in the federal republic were too-high levels of harmful bacteria found in the water, including five inland and six coastal water bodies. Last year there were eight. 

The sites pinpointed as potentially unsuitable for swimming includes a spot on the Elbe near Brokdorf in Schleswig-Holstein, the beach at Wremen on the North Sea, Weser Beach Sandstedt in Lower Saxony, the Klostersee at Triefenstein in Bavaria and the Spreelagune Lübben in Brandenburg

Among those whose water was rated poor quality include popular swimming spots like the Schlei at Winningmay in Schleswig-Holstein, the Baltic Sea by the resort of Barth, the Glöwitzer Bucht, the Neuendorfer Badestrand at Greifswalder Bodden (all in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), the Obhausen Lido in Saxony-Anhalt, and the bathing spots at See Freigericht-Ost in Kahl am Main and the Garching lake, both in Bavaria. 

The European countries with the cleanest water

Every year, the Copenhagen-based EEA analyses data from more than 22.000 bodies of water across the European Union. The environmental experts look at pollution in the water, namely faecal bacteria originating from sewage and agriculture, which can cause diseases in humans. If an area is found to have unsatisfactory water quality, the EEA usually recommends a bathing ban, a warning notice, or a similar measure. 

In 2020, the EEA rated 82,8 percent of all water bodies as excellent, and 92,6 met the minimum EU standards. The cleanest waters are to be found in Cyprus, Austria, Greece, Malta and Croatia, where more than 95 percent of bathing areas were certified as having excellent water quality. Germany ranks seventh behind these five countries and Denmark. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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