Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


1.5 EARTH AND RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, Environmental sciences, Water resources, Civil engineering, Environmental and geological engineering

Publication Details

International Water Conference on New Developments in IT and Water, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 4th – 06th Nov., 2012.


Variations in water quality at recreational bathing beaches can have significant impacts with respect to compliance with related water quality standards, such as Directive 76/160/EEC. The “Blue Flag” award which bases its water quality standards upon the guideline E.coli levels of Directive 76/160/EEC, has become the measure of recreational value of bathing areas. Loss of such designations can have significant impacts with respect to local tourist economies. A revised Bathing Water Directive (Directive 2006/7/EC) came into force in 2006 and will supersede the existing 1976 Directive with effect from December 2014.

The revised Directive gives stronger focus on the protection of public health, a proactive approach to the management of bathing water quality and greater public participation. It establishes stricter microbiological standards for two new parameters, Intestinal Enterococci (I.E.) and Escherichia coli (E.coli). The directive introduces a new classification system determined on the basis of a four-year period instead of the monitoring results from a single bathing season. This will give a balanced rating that allows for the discounting of short-term pollution incidents. However, discounting is facilitated in the revised directive by an understanding of water quality variation and the ability to provide real-time prediction of faecal indicator organisms (FIOs) at bathing beaches.

This paper presents findings of the SMART COASTS research project (, that develops a real-time predictive model of bathing water quality, using physically-based integrated catchment and coastal modelling tools.