Swimming water refers to both natural water at beaches and the water in swimming pools. Legislation specifies quality standards that swimming water must meet so as not to cause health hazards for users. The municipal health protection authorities monitor water quality, but the operators must also monitor it regularly. Operators are ultimately responsible for ensuring that their operations are safe for health.
Public beaches, spas, swimming pools and outdoor swimming pools must be reported to the municipal health protection authority before they commence operations. The authority can thus monitor the hygiene of these facilities and especially the quality of swimming water. Monitoring other safety aspects of the operations is the responsibility of the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes).
Laboratory tests related to the official monitoring of the quality of swimming water are performed at laboratories approved by the Finnish Food Authority, using approved test methods. Users must be notified of the water quality results on a notice board, for example.
Public beaches are classified based on visitor numbers at public beaches and small public beaches. Legislation requires that the quality of swimming water at these beaches is monitored in the summer. Legislation can also be applied outside the swimming season during the winter swimming season, for example.
Public beaches are “EU beaches”, where a significant number of swimmers is expected. The quality of swimming water at these beaches in the summer is reported to the EU. Based on the reported results, the European Environment Agency publishes the quality information for the public beaches within the EU on a map which shows the data of each beach . The water quality at EU beaches is classified in quality categories based on the presence of intestinal enterococci bacteria and the Escherichia coli (E.coli) bacteria, describing faecal contamination in four test results during the summer swimming season. Swimming water categories are excellent, good, sufficient or poor.
Swimming pool water
The quality of swimming pool water in spas, swimming pools and other public pools must meet statutory requirements. Swimming pool water must not contain microorganisms, parasites or any other harmful substances in such quantities that they could pose a risk to human health. If the quality of swimming pool water does not meet the requirements set for it, the cause must be determined and the issue fixed immediately.
In addition to monitoring the quality of swimming water, the municipal health protection authority monitors swimming pools, spas, and outdoor pools by performing regular inspections. The operator of these facilities prepares a monitoring investigation plan in cooperation with the authority, taking into account the facility’s special features. Monitoring other public swimming pools focuses on monitoring water quality.
People working at swimming pools, spas and other similar facilities who could affect the quality of swimming pool water in their work must have a valid water work card. Read more on the Water work card page.