Water Quality

As bathing water quality is increasingly under threat, Surfrider Foundation Europe is implementing appropriate action programmes for those who enjoy the coastline and watersports enthusiasts. They can therefore get better informed and not left behind in such matters. For this purpose the organisation is basing its strategy on two key aspects: yearly bathing water quality surveillance and actions for legislation change.

Check out the activity report for 2017


Surfrider’s Analysis Laboratories

Bask Country Laboratory

Philippe Bencivengo
Water Quality and Uses Project Officer
33, allée du Moura
64200 Biarritz FRANCE
Mobile. : +33(0)6 12 17 17 16
Phone. : +33(0)5 24 67 12 23
Email :

Mediterranean Laboratory

Sarah Hatimi
Mediterranean Project Officer
Maison de la mer – Plage du Prophète
Corniche du président John Fitzgerald Kennedy
13007 Marseille
FRANCE Mobile. : +33(0)6 60 69 01 39
Phone. : +33(0)4 88 04 32 98
Email :

Brittany Laboratory

Marie-Amélie Néollier
Brittany Environment Project Officer
2 rue Paul Dukas
Mobile. : +33(0)6 25 24 74 25
Phone : +33(0)2 98 41 61 57
Email :

Reunion Island Laboratory

Yann Herruel Reunion Island Project Officer Mobile : +33(0)6 92 33 27 64 Email :


From 1990 Surfrider has been working on water quality issues and their consequences on users’ health, in particular through a first meeting with the European Parliament to expose its demands. Surfrider has also implemented analytical laboratories in order to increase its knowledge regarding coastal pollution issues. To this end water quality of recreational coastal sites is monitored alongside the action of existing networks. In doing so Surfrider’s laboratories constitute an independent scientific database which facilitates dialogue between local stakeholders and enables to address contamination issues. These field operations also provide for the Keepers of the Coast monitoring network and feed the organisation’s lobbying work.

Annual water quality monitoring of recreational areas

Sanitary surveillance of bathing water quality is carried out by Regional Health Agencies (ARS) throughout bathing season. They organise water monitoring in collaboration with people in charge of bathing waters and relevant local authorities. Surfrider achieves additional monitoring all year long to support these official tests by focusing on recreational coastal areas – surfing, windsurfing, diving, kayaking spots… which are not subject to any specific regulation. In France this work is implemented in the following regions: Pyrénées Atlantiques, Finistère, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur coastline and Reunion Island.

What are the goals of Surfrider’s laboratories?

    • Monitor all year long the bacteriological water quality of recreational coastal sites,
    • Inform Surfrider’s members, watersports enthusiasts, the general public, relevant local stakeholders and authorities on the quality of the monitored zones,
    • Highlight contamination issues and act for water quality improvement of such affected zones,
    • Create a privileged and lasting exchange of information between citizens, coastline experts, local policymakers and authorities, to restore waters from recreational coastal sites.


Chemical water quality monitoring

Wishing to take one step further on the issue of emerging pollutions, Surfrider has integrated the chemical factor to its monitoring network in order to better understand the origins of such pollutions as well as their impacts on both the marine environment and the human health. The Mediterranean Laboratory has been appointed to this matter: bibliographical and research work regarding sanitary risks related to chemical substances found in the environment, then research on the presence of hydrocarbon in coastal areas. 300 chemical analyses are carried out every year especially on hydrocarbons but also on cadmium, mercury, alkyphenols, parabens, phthalates and fertilizers.


Restore waters from recreational
coastal sites

Up until now bathing water quality was regulated by a directive dating from 1976. In 2006 it was revised and amended to simplify its monitoring. Information given to the general public should also be improved.

Even though it is stricter and despite Surfrider Foundation Europe’s lobbying at the European Parliament in 2005, the new directive does not include recreational coastal sites in its monitoring and only requires surveillance on bathing water areas during bathing season.

Coastal water activities are becoming increasingly popular. Such activities are practiced all year long on areas that are often different from bathing zones. Surfrider Foundation Europe reckons the health and security of this group of people must be ensured to the same extent as the bathers’.

This is why Surfrider has engaged in a coordinated approach with every relevant local stakeholder to improve communication related to the results and the investigations initiated when bacteriological thresholds are exceeded as described in the regulation. In fact, identifying the origin of contamination enables to recommend appropriate actions and consider rehabilitation works to restore the quality of the damaged area.

Restoring waters from recreational coastal sites is one of Surfrider’s key objectives. It seems therefore mandatory to focus on tomorrow’s pollutions starting today so we can understand how they will evolve in the marine environment and how threatening they are for the users’ health.