The swimming season officially begins on June 1. Although the water quality in Estonia is usually very good, it is not advised to swim at Pärnu Raeküla beach.
Lauri Liepkalns, chief specialist at the Health Board's environmental health department, told "Terevision" that looking at current air and water temperatures, people are not rushing to the beach; however, if people want to swim, they can do so without hesitation, as the bathing water right now is of high quality.
The health authority conducts water quality assessments prior to each season. Liepkalns said that practically all swimming locations have good water quality. "There was a minor issue in Põlva, but a repeat sample was taken and the result has yet to be returned," he said.
According to Liepkalns, water analysis is similar to photography in that it depicts the status of the environment at the moment the sample was taken. A water analysis can be influenced by rain or a severe storm that has caused sediment to shift along the bottom of a body of water; so much is dependent on timing when the samples are collected.
The bigger worriers, Liepkalns said, are swimming places with long-term problems. For example, Stroomi beach in Tallinn. "There was a spill there but now it was cleared up, prior to the beginning of the season," he said.
Pärnu Raeküla beach is the only location where there is now a permanent caution against going into the water. "There have been problems with water quality there for several years in a row, and this ban is given to sites where the average water quality over four seasons is poor," he explained.
Liepkalns said that bathing property owners usually undertake their own water analyses as well. The health authority provides a preseason water sample to evaluate the cleanliness of the water and inspects the shoreline to ensure all is in order.
The majority of bathing sites, however, take their own samples or delegate the analyses during the season. A minimum of one test is taken each month and in larger bodies of water, testing happens even more frequently.
The Health Board also analyzes beaches that are not designated as swimming places, but where people still swim. "We are collecting samples with the hope that these beaches will become official swimming locations in the future," he said.
If a red flag is flying on the beach, Liepkalns recommends staying out of the water. "If a lifeguard is present, you can ask for a reason. It is also not worth the risk if there is a high wave or cold water, which could be one of the reasons a red flag is up," he explained.
Editor: Kristina Kersa