A European Environment Agency report, released today, shows that 5.7 percent of Estonia's "bathing waters," or swimming areas, were of poor quality in 2013.
Only 64.2 percent, or 34 of 53 official bathing areas, received the highest mark, one of the lowest percentages in the European Union, which had 82.6 percent high marks on average and 2.0 percent poor quality.
The results are worse for coastal bathing waters, with only 11 out of 26 receiving the highest mark, while 7.7 percent were poor. The union's average was 85.2 percent getting high marks and 1.9 percent poor marks.
The results of the tests, which were taken 290 times last year, have been slowly improving since 2004, with the highest increase coming in the inland bathing waters section. The percentage of areas showing excellent test results increased from slightly over 50 percent in 2004 to 85 percent in 2013, although that figure was above 90 percent in 2011.
The following beaches were rated poor: Karepa in Lääne-Viru County, which had problems with E. coli; Vana-Pärnu Beach, near Pärnu, which had problems with both intestinal enterococci and E. coli; and Anne canal in Tartu, which had major problems with both intestinal enterococci and E. coli.
A number of beaches barely scraped by the tests, such as Kuressaare beach, Kunda (Lääne-Viru County) and Stroomi beach in Tallinn.
The tests measured intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli (E. coli) with the report also collecting data from abnormal situation periods and short-term pollution periods.