French bathing waters improve in 1998

More sites meeting EU directive standards, 170 still failing, latest national survey shows

French bathing water quality has increased over the last year according to figures published today. Compiled annually for the last 25 years, the statistics show that 95% of French coastal and inland bathing waters exceeded water quality threshold limits set by the EU bathing water quality directive in 1998, an increase of 3 percentage points on the previous year's tally. The results also show that the number of bathing water locations classed in the worst water quality category fell from 17 to nine over the same time period, with a total of 170 sites still failing to reach EU standards. The presentation also highlighted two new features in the provision of French bathing water quality information: the data have been broken down into regional figures and presented in map form, and all the figures are available for the first time on the Internet. Presenting the results, environment minister Dominique Voynet announced several initiatives to improve bathing water quality in the coming year, including the building of extra sewage treatment capacity, which a ministry study during the year showed was responsible for 50% of cases of non-conformance with quality standards.

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