Athens beaches: how clean are they? Read the Summer 2013 report

Posted by in Tourism

How clean is the beach I am going for a swim? A question asked by many Athenians each and every summer. The dangers are not feasible – but they are there.  Microorganisms and bacteria that can cause serious risk to our health.

Athens beach

It’s not just the one plastic bottle that makes the water you swim in dirty…

The Greek Center of Ecological Research (PAKOE) took again this year samples of the waters from several bays primarily around Athens and the broader area (Attika – Saronic Gulf), and the Gulfs of Euboia, Pagasitikos (Volos – Pilion) and Corinth (North Peloponnese).The samples were taken in the month of May.
The results are not very promising for the austerity-hit Greeks who will not be able to enjoy the luxury of  summer vacations to an island with crystal clear waters.
PAKOE checked 193 beaches in Attika. 40 of them were found to be “very clean”, 94 “clean”, 40 “not appropriate” and 19 “dangerous”.
athens beaches
Signs: very clean = Dark Blue, clean = White/Blue, not appropriate = Red with !, dangerous = Red with scull
The results have to do with the rate of faecal bacteria in the water. This doesn’t mean that every swimmer satisfies his personal needs in the water. But there can be a sewage pipeline transporting dirt in the water, there could be sailors emptying their waste in the sea, water currents transporting sewage and several other reasons.
Athens beach
Happy swimmers in an Athens beach which was found to be “dangerous” for human health. Shouldn’t the municipalities forbid swimming in such beaches and set up visible warning signs? I recently saw one single sign in Palaio Faliro saying “Swimming is forbidden 50 meters left and right” – but people keep swimming even if it’s 52 meters away – *sigh*
One question is: how can one beach be ‘clean’ and the next “inappropriate” or “dangerous”? I suppose it has to do with whether these beaches are in the same bay and whether currents sweep away the dirt. If anyone has better explanations, please let us know!
You better think twice before you set foot in certain beaches. The money you could spend for the treatment could be much higher than the money you would spend for a week vacation.
Of course, the argument could be: I go swimming in a dirty beach all through the summer. Not comparison to just one week vacation.
What do you think?
Full beaches report 2013 in www.cleanbeaches.gr with interactive map and the PAKOE report . Both reports are in Greek but the map makes it easy to find ‘your’ beach, read the signs and decide.