Last changed: 25/05/12
Natural bathing waters, unlike man-made swimming pools, are defined as bodies of waters or parts thereof that are part of the natural water cycle—lakes, rivers and the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas.
The assessment of bathing water in terms of hygiene parameters has been regulated in Europe since 1976 by the European Bathing Water Directive. There are some 2,000 officially registered bathing waters in Germany. The Laender (federal states) monitor these waters regularly in accordance with the directive.
The Federal Environment Agency compiles the results of water hygiene monitoring in the Laender, checks them for consistency, and forwards them to the European Commission via the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The results will be published as “EEA Report – European bathing water quality”. The Commission issues a classification of the quality of all bathing waters in Europe, which can be read in English in its Annual report on bathing water quality.
The German federal states (Laender) are responsible for the monitoring of bathing waters. Most of the federal states post up-to-date information on the Internet (in German). In the federal states that do not yet offer central information on the quality of bathing waters on the Internet, such information is provided by the competent public health authorities.
Just click on the Federal State of choice
to find out more about bathing waters in that state.
24 March 2006 marked the entry into force of the amended European Directive concerning the management of bathing water quality. In Germany, the Directive has been transposed by ordinances enacted by the 16 German states. Since the 2008 bathing season, bathing waters have been monitored in accordance with the provisions of the new Directive. Bathing water classification under the new Directive requires data from 4 years, which is why the first classification will take place in 2011.
The Federal Environment Agency has developed a Recommendation for the practical application of the EC Bathing Water Directive and for bathing water assessment during the transitional period before 2011 (PDF / 380 KB, in German).
The Federal Environment Agency is actively contributing to efforts to protect bathers from infection:
The physical exercise of bathing is healthy. This makes it all the more important to bear in mind that bathing may involve health risks.