Proposed features/Beach and bathing water quality

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This is a new proposal based on the rejected Proposed Features/Blue flag

Status: Proposed (under way)
Proposed by: Johan Jönsson
Tagging: award:blue_flag=yes
Applies to: node, way, area, relation
Definition: To show that a beach has earned the blue_flag or that it is rated in the EU bathing water system or by nrdc.
Drafted on: 2012-08-20
RFC start: 2012-08-26


To show that a bathing area have a good bathing water quality and that it is rated in a specific system. This is a secondary tag put on existing tagged nodes, leisure=beach, leisure=beach_resort.

Instead of using a general tag for bathing water quality, the proposal is to use the award-systems already in use in some parts of the world.

New Proposal



  • no_bath / bath
  • poor/sufficent/good/excellent

The values could be associated with minimum requirements on amount of particles/pollution/bacteria. These should be choosen to coincide with at least one major rating system. Bacteria could be the fecal indicator bacteria: Intestinal enterococci and E-Coli.

good : Intestinal enterococci < 100 per 100 ml OR E-Coli <100 per 100 ml

sufficient: Intestinal enterococci > 100 per 100 ml OR E-Coli >100 per 100 ml

poor: Intestinal enterococci > 300 per 100 ml OR E-Coli >1000 per 100 ml

(Based on swedish regulation )

Drinking water

This could be expanded to also be used for drinking water:


  • drinkable
  • poor/sufficent/good/excellent //this complicates things a bit.

Water quality monitoring

To become an EU bath the water quality have to be monitored at least three times during a bathing season. To earn the blue flag award, five times per season. water:quality:monitoring=yes/three/EU/five/blue_flag or award:eu-bath=yes / award:blue_flag=yes or classification:eu-bath=yes member:blue_flag=yes


Bathing areas with an award have been found to hold a certain level of service and quality. These places should be in a travellers interest to find. It could also be of interest to avoid places with bad quality of the water but that is not the main scope of the proposal.


It got excellent bathing water according to EU and a blue flag.
It got excellent bathing water according to EU and a blue flag.


Added to existing features, leisure=beach, leisure=beach_resort, describing the award or rating. A good practice is to tag what you can see.

  • award:blue_flag=yes tagged on features that fly the blue flag. It could be good to double-check it on the site too.
  • award:eu_bath=3stars/2stars/1star/0star tagged on features that display a sign with the water quality, given as a rating in stars. It could be good to double-check it on the site too.
  • award:nrdc=5stars/4stars/3stars/2stars/1star I´m not sure if this is visible as some kind of sign or notice on the beach.

about the key

The key award is used as a prefix, or a top-level key, or as a name-space. It is supposed to be used together with the award-system forming the combined key award:<award_system>. For award systems that have only one award one could consider something like award=blue_flag, but for rating systems that uses more common units it is not advicable to use e.g. award=3stars, better then to expand the key to award:eu_bath=3stars.


European Union Bathing Water Classification

According to the 2006 bathing water directive all member states of the European Union are obliged to identify all bathing areas and classify them. It is up to each nation to set the limit of how big or frequented a bathing area is to be counted as an european bathing water. The quality bathing water must be supervised and the quality be posted visible to the visitors.

In 2011 there were 22000 EU bathing sites. [1]

Blue flag

A beach can be awarded the blue flag if the municipality apply and then passes the evaluation by a jury.

The Blue Flag Programme is run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), with national organizations in 46 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean. Only bathing places in these countries can be awarded.

Blue flag beaches must have a good supervised water quality and a certain level of safety and services. There is also requirements on an environmental awareness of the operators that shall reflect on the management of the beach. See also blue flag beach on wikipedia.


The Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) is an environmental organization that among other things rates popular beaches in USA, based on the bathing water quality. The star system awards up to five stars to each popular beach for exceptionally low violation of quality-levels and strong testing and safety practices. Criteria include testing more than once a week, notifying the public promptly when tests reveal bacteria levels violating health standards, and posting closings and advisories both online and at the beach.

NRDC issued star ratings to 200 popular beaches around the country 2012.

NRDC might have other awards, so using the key award:NRDC might mean different things depending on what feature is tagged. E.g. the Going Green Award.

Meaning of the ratings



The operator of the beach is awarded the blue flag by FEE for their quality work of maintaining the beach with environmental awareness.
This is not a recommended tag. Could be used if the status of a feature is changed from yes to no.


Excellent bathing water quality. Shown as three stars on a sign
Good bathing water quality. Shown as two stars on a sign
Sufficient bathing water quality. Shown as one star on a sign
Poor bathing water quality. Shown as a minus on a sign
This value could be used when the rating isn´t known, it could change from year to year. This shows that the bathing area is one of the 22000 popular beaches that is subjected to the rules if the bathing water directive. It is shown by the use of a EU-flag on the site.


No samples exceeding national standards, tests twice a week. excellent bathing water quality.
Less than 5% of samples exceeding national standards, tests once a week.
A rating of bathing water quality.
A rating of bathing water quality.
A rating of bathing water quality.

See also