Germany’s bathing waters continue to get top marks

Junge springt vom Steg in einen SeeClick to enlarge
Samples of 2,291 bathing waters were taken and evaluated in the 2021 bathing season
Source: mmphoto /

Over 96 percent of German bathing waters were rated "excellent" or "good" by the EU Commission in the 2021 season. Overall, 98 percent of bathing waters on lakes, rivers and coasts in Germany met the minimum requirements of the EU Bathing Water Directive. These were the findings of the European Commission's report on European bathing water quality for the 2021 season presented on 3 June 2022.

Only 14 out of 2,291 bathing waters achieved only a "poor" rating according to the criteria of the EU Directive in the 2021 season. In order to protect bathers from possible health hazards, bathing was banned or advised against in 144 cases (as a precautionary measure) at bathing waters during the season. The reasons were either the presence of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) or related to water hygiene – often a result of heavy rain events with polluted water entering the water bodies. Thanks to the increasing use of forecasting systems, hygienic pollution e.g. as a result of heavy rainfall can be predicted with increasing accuracy. These systems work, for example, using model calculations or water gauge data.

Current bathing water quality

Current data on all bathing waters can be accessed online from the websites of the federal states. UBA provides an overview at Wasserqualität in Badegewässern. (in German).

Tests were carried out at 2,291 German bathing sites in the 2021 bathing season, with 12,948 water samples taken and evaluated. 363 of the bathing sites are along the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas, 1,928 are inland.

Covid-19 pandemic and flooding

Bathing in 2021 continued to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic: 26 bathing waters were inaccessible to bathers, either temporarily or for the entire season. One site was located in the restricted area of the African swine fever outbreak. The floods in western Germany meant that at least nine bathing waters in the affected regions were temporarily inaccessible.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on bathing waters (2020, PDF, in German)

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