Lonely Planet Writer

Danish coastal and inland waters at their cleanest since records began

Denmark’s coastal and inland waters have been awarded their highest ever ranking for cleanliness since records began, according to the latest report by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Grenen, Skagen
Grenen, Skagen Image by Fredrik Rubensson / CC BY 2.0

The annual report assessing European bathing water quality meticulously tests multiple samples taken from bathing spots across the continent throughout the bathing season.  Researchers look for bacteria such as Escherichia coli, which is an indication that the water has been polluted by sewage.

Of the 1028 sites tested in Denmark in 2015, 98.4% reached the EEA’s standard for ‘sufficient’ water quality, while 85.7% were deemed to be ‘excellent’. Denmark’s coastline is a huge draw for tourism to the country; stunning stretches of sandy beaches in Jutland’s Skagen and Duedde in Bornholm attract thousands of visitors each year.

Danish Environment Minister Esben Larsen said in a statement, “That’s great news for water lovers and the tourism industry. We have thousands of kilometres of beautiful coasts and we once again have the EU’s word that the bathing water quality is tip-top.”

Even better news for local and visiting beach-goers alike, is that the findings for Denmark are echoed across the whole continent, with over 21,000 bathing spots (96.1% of those tested) meeting the EU’s minimum water quality requirements in 2015. In 1991 just 56% of the European bathing sites included in the study were described as ‘excellent’, but the figure for 2015 has soared to 84%.

The improvements to the water quality at bathing sites in Denmark specifically have been linked in part to recent improvements to sewage treatment works in Copenhagen.