Section 2.3.7.
Assessment and management of bathing water quality


Subsection 2.3.7.1.
Objective and scope


Article 2.3.7.1.1.

1.

The general objective of this Section, in accordance with Directive 2006/7/EC of 15 February 2006 concerning the management of bathing water quality and repealing Directive 76/160/EEC and in accordance with Article 51bis of the Decree of 18 July 2003 relating to the integral water policy, is to preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment and to protect human health and is complementary to the other objectives of this chapter.

2.

This Section is applicable to all bathing waters indicated in conformance with the provisions of this Section.

3.

This Section does not apply to:

1

bathing pools and spa pools;

2

confined waters subject to treatment or used for therapeutic purposes;

3

artificially created confined waters separated from surface water and groundwater.


Subsection 2.3.7.2.
Designation of bathing waters


Article 2.3.7.2.1. The Flemish ministers competent for the environmental and water policy and the Flemish minister competent for the health policy will together designate all bathing waters no later than 31 March of each calendar year. When designating these waters, they will also determine the start and duration of the bathing season.

Article 2.3.7.2.2.

1.

At least three months before the decision on the designation of bathing waters stated in Article 2.3.7.2.1., a draft list of bathing waters shall be announced with regard to the establishment, review and updating of the bathing water lists, with a view to encouraging public participation. During a thirty-day period, all members of the public will be free to give their proposals, comments or complaints concerning the draft list.

2.

The announcement will be made by means of:

1

a message on the Government of Flanders website;

2

publication in at least three daily or weekly newspapers;

3

a poster in each municipality in which a body of bathing water on the draft list is located.

3.

The draft list of bathing waters shall announce:

1

the location of every body of bathing water on the draft list;

2

the proposed start and duration of the bathing season;

3

the location of the authority from which information on every body of bathing water can be obtained;

4

the period in which proposals, comments or complaints can be submitted;

5

the addresses and contact details of the authorities to which proposals, comments or complaints can be submitted.

4.

The Flanders Environment Agency shall draw up a summary report of proposals, comments or complaints submitted with regard to the draft list. After consulting with the Flemish Agency for Care and Health, taking the aforementioned summary report into account, a reasoned, definitive proposal for a list of bathing waters will be immediately formulated with regard to the Order stated in Article 2.3.7.2.1 giving the start and duration of the bathing season.


Article 2.3.7.2.3.

The Order stated in Article 2.3.7.2.1 shall be published in the Belgian Official Journal. Determination as bathing water within the meaning of this Order shall also be made public on site no later than the day before the start of the bathing season in accordance with Article 2.3.7.2.1. The Commission shall be notified immediately of the decision and, where appropriate, of the reasons for a change in the list of bathing waters.


Subsection 2.3.7.3.
Classification and quality status of bathing waters


Article 2.3.7.3.1.

As a result of the bathing water quality assessment carried out in accordance with Article 3 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3, the Flanders Environment Agency shall, in accordance with the criteria stated in Article 4 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3., classify bathing water as:

1

poor;

2

acceptable;

3

good, or

4

excellent.

Article 2.3.7.3.2. The first classification in accordance with the requirements of this Subsection shall be completed no later than by the end of the 2015 bathing season.

Article 2.3.7.3.3. The competent authorities shall take such realistic and proportionate measures as they consider appropriate to increase the number of bathing waters classified as “excellent” or “good”. By the end of the 2015 bathing season, all bathing waters must at least be classified as “acceptable”. The Flanders Environment Agency shall ensure that these measures are taken in a timely manner, and if necessary, take the initiative itself or formulate proposals for the competent authorities.

Article 2.3.7.3.4.

Notwithstanding the general provision of Article 2.3.7.3.3, bathing waters may be temporarily classified as “poor” and still remain in compliance with the conditions of this Section. In such cases, the Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall, each in its own area, ensure that the following conditions are satisfied:

1

with regard to each body of bathing water classified as “poor”, the following measures shall be taken at the start of the bathing season following that of the classification:

a)

the Flemish Agency for Care and Health or the Flanders Environment Agency shall take appropriate management measures, including, where the former is concerned, a bathing ban or advice against bathing, with a view to preventing bathers’ exposure to pollution;

b)

the Flanders Environment Agency shall identify the causes and reasons for the failure to achieve an “acceptable” quality status;

c)

the Flanders Environment Agency shall take appropriate measures to prevent, reduce or eliminate the causes of pollution, and if necessary, propose measures to the competent authorities;

d)

the Flanders Environment Agency shall alert the public by means of a clear and straightforward warning sign and inform them of the causes of the pollution and of the measures taken on the basis of the bathing water profile;

2

if a body of bathing water is classified as “poor” for five successive years, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health will introduce a permanent bathing ban or permanent advice against bathing. However, the Flemish Agency for Health and Care may introduce a permanent bathing ban or permanent advice against bathing before the end of the five year period if the Flanders Environment Agency considers that the achievement of “acceptable quality” would be infeasible or disproportionately expensive.


Subsection 2.3.7.4.
Bathing water profiles


Article 2.3.7.4.1.

1.

The Flanders Environment Agency shall ensure that bathing water profiles are established. Each bathing water profile may cover a single body of bathing water or multiple contiguous bathing waters.

2.

The content and method of assessment, establishment and updating of the bathing water profile is determined in Articles 5 and 6 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3..

3.

Bathing water profiles shall be established for the first time by no later than 24 March 2011.


Subsection 2.3.7.5.
Management measures in exceptional circumstances


Article 2.3.7.5.1. The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health, each in their own area, shall ensure that timely and adequate management measures are taken when they are made aware of unexpected situations that have, or could reasonably be expected to have, an adverse impact on bathing water quality and on bathers’ health. Such measures shall include providing information to the public and, if necessary, a temporary bathing ban, imposed by the Flemish Agency for Care and Health.

Article 2.3.7.5.2.

1.

When the bathing water profile established in accordance with the provisions of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3 indicates a potential for cyanobacterial proliferation, the Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health will carry out appropriate monitoring to enable timely identification of the health risks.

2.

When cyanobacterial proliferation occurs and a health risk has been identified or is suspected, adequate management measures to prevent exposure, including providing information to the public, shall be taken immediately.


Article 2.3.7.5.3. When the bathing water profile established in accordance with the provisions of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3 indicates a tendency for proliferation of macro-algae or marine phytoplankton, the Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall carry out investigations to determine their acceptability and health risks and take adequate management measures, including providing information to the public.

Article 2.3.7.5.4.

The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall visually inspect bathing waters for pollution such as tarry residues, glass, plastic, rubber or any other waste.

When such pollution is found, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall take adequate measures, including, if necessary, providing information to the public.


Subsection 2.3.7.6.
Cooperation on transboundary waters


Article 2.3.7.6.1. When the situation in a river basin gives rise to transboundary impacts on bathing water quality, the competent authorities involved will cooperate as appropriate, including through the appropriate exchange of information and joint action to control these impacts. In such a case, the Flanders Environment Agency shall take the necessary initiatives with regard to the cooperative bodies charged with water quality management in international river basins as a result of international conventions to which the Flemish Region is party.

Subsection 2.3.7.7.
Providing information to the public


Article 2.3.7.7.1.

1.

The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall jointly ensure that the following information is actively circulated and promptly made available during the bathing season in an easily accessible place in the immediate vicinity of each body of bathing water:

1

the current bathing water classification and any bathing ban or advice against bathing, by means of a clear and simple sign or symbol;

2

a general description of the bathing water, in non-technical language, based on the bathing water profile stated in Section 4 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3;

3

in the case of bathing waters subject to short-term pollution:

a)

notification that the bathing water is subject to short-term pollution;

b)

an indication of the number of days on which bathing was banned or advised against in the previous bathing season because of such pollution;

c)

a warning whenever such pollution is predicted or present;

4

information on the nature and duration of abnormal situations during such events;

5

in the case of a bathing ban or advice against bathing: a warning sign for the public indicating the reasons;

6

when introducing a permanent bathing ban or permanent advice against bathing: the fact that the area in question is no longer bathing water, and the reasons for this;

7

a reference to sources with more complete information in accordance with 2.

2.

The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall use appropriate media and technologies, including the internet, to actively and promptly circulate the information concerning bathing water quality stated in 1, as well as the following information, and, when necessary, in several languages:

1

a list of bathing waters;

2

the classification of each bathing water over the last three years and its bathing water profile, including the results of monitoring carried out in accordance with this Section since the last classification;

3

in the case of bathing waters classified as being “poor”, information on the causes of pollution and on the measures taken with a view to preventing bathers’ exposure to pollution and to tackle its causes as stated in Article 2.3.7.3.4;

4

in the case of bathing waters subject to short-term pollution, general information on:

a)

conditions that are likely to lead to short-term pollution;

b)

the risk of such pollution and the probable duration;

c)

the causes of the pollution and the measures taken with a view to preventing bathers’ exposure to pollution and to tackle its causes.

The list stated in 1 shall be made available each year before the start of the bathing season. The results of the monitoring stated in 2 shall be made available on the internet upon completion of the analyses.

3.

The information stated in 1 and 2 shall be circulated as soon as it is available and with effect from the start of the fifth bathing season after 24 March 2008.

4.

The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall, wherever possible, provide information to the public using geo-referenced technology and present it in a clear and coherent manner, in particular through the use of signs and symbols.


Subsection 2.3.7.8.
Complaints centre for the public


Article 2.3.7.8.1. Pursuant to the application of the procedure stated in Article 2.3.7.2.2, the Flanders Environment Agency shall set up a permanent complaints centre. The public will be able to use every means of communication to give their proposals and comments or lodge complaints on the state of bathing water quality through this complaints centre.

Subsection 2.3.7.9.
Reporting to the European Commission


Article 2.3.7.9.1.

1.

Each year, the Flanders Environment Agency shall provide the European Commission with the following through the appropriate channels:

1

the monitoring results for each body of bathing water;

2

the bathing water quality assessment in accordance with Article 3 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3;

3

a description of significant management measures taken.

It shall provide this information annually by no later than 31 December in relation to the preceding bathing season. It shall begin providing it once the first bathing water quality assessment has been carried out.

2.

The Flanders Environment Agency shall notify the European Commission annually, through the appropriate channels, before the start of the bathing season of all waters designated as bathing waters, including the reason for any change compared to the previous year. It shall do this for the first time before the start of the first bathing season after 24 March 2008.