Albufeira, Tavira and Vila do Bispo are the national champions of ZERO pollution beaches in Portugal

ZERO considers that data is «what on a European scale is desired within the framework of the European Ecological Pact, in particular within the scope of the Action Plan for Zero Pollution»

Praia da Rocha Baixinha, in Albufeira

Albufeira, with six beaches, as well as Tavira and Vila do Bispo, with four, are the municipalities in the country with the most ZERO pollution bathing areas in Portugal, announced today ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável.

The Algarve, in fact, has almost half of the beaches, coastal and inland, on the entire national coast, including Madeira and the Azores. It's just that, of the 54 ZERO Pollution beaches in Portugal, 21 are located in the Algarve.

Thus, in Albufeira, the beaches of Evaristo, Falésia Mar, Manuel Lourenço, Rocha Baixinha, Rocha Baixinha-East and Rocha Baixinha-Poente receive this classification (one more beach than in 2022).

For its part, in Tavira, the awarded coastal bathing areas are Barril, Cabanas-Mar, Ilha de Tavira-Mar and Terra Estreita (the same beaches), while in Vila do Bispo they are Burgau, Castelejo, Cordoama and Salema (more a beach).

In Aljezur, these are the beaches of Amoreiras-Mar, Bordeira and Vale Figueiras (less 1), Faro maintains the same number (Barreta, Culatra-Mar and Ilha do Farol-Mar), and Vila Real de Santo António, which, last year, did not make the list, makes its debut this year with one (Fábrica-Mar).

Analyzing these data, it is concluded that the municipalities of Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa, Silves, Loulé, Olhão and Castro Marim do not have any coastal bathing area this year on the list of beaches without pollution drawn up by ZERO.

The environmental association explains that «a ZERO pollution beach is one where no microbiological contamination was detected in the analyzes carried out on bathing water over the last three bathing seasons».

In 2023, ZERO Pollution Beaches represent 8% of the total of 658 bathing areas in operation, a reduction of seven percentage points, minus four beaches, compared to the 58 classified last year.


Cordoama beach


All beaches classified last year as ZERO Pollution Beaches are classified, under the legislation, as beaches with “excellent” water quality.

Most of the time, however, «at the expense of a single analysis where the presence of microorganisms was detected, even if very far from the limit value, they can no longer be considered ZERO Pollution Beaches», they explain.

On the positive side, «worth mentioning is the addition of another beach in Albufeira to the five existing last year, and the move from one to three beaches in Odemira, one of which is inland».

Matosinhos, Torres Vedras and Vila Real de Santo António became part of the municipalities with at least one ZERO Pollution Beach.

On the other hand, Esposende, Loulé, Peniche, Sabugal and Vila do Conde are no longer represented.

In terms of balance, 17 beaches left last year's list and 13 new ones entered.

This analysis by Associação ZERO took into account the parameters of the legislation in force. The municipalities with the highest number of ZERO Pollution Beaches are Albufeira with six beaches, Porto Santo, Tavira and Vila do Bispo with four and Alcobaça, Aljezur, Faro, Odemira, Sesimbra and Vila do Porto (Santa Maria, Azores) with three.

There are 41 ZERO beaches on the mainland in 18 municipalities, eight beaches in the Azores in six municipalities and five beaches in Madeira in two municipalities.

ZERO points out that it is «extremely difficult to obtain an unscathed registration over three years in inland bathing areas, much more susceptible to microbiological pollution».

As happened last year, there is an interior bathing area with a ZERO pollution classification – Albufeira dos Alfaiates in the municipality of Sabugal is no longer a ZERO Pollution Beach, but it was verified entry on the list of Santa Clara beach, on the dam with the same name, in the municipality of Odemira.

All other beaches are considered “coastal”. This fact is an indicator of how much remains to be done to ensure good water quality in rivers and streams in Portugal, which requires additional efforts in terms of urban sanitation and companies.


Interior beach of the Santa Clara dam (Odemira) – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


What is a ZERO Pollution Beach?
Based on data requested from the Portuguese Environment Agency, Associação ZERO identified the beaches that, over the last three bathing seasons (2020, 2021 and 2022), not only always had an “EXCELLENT” classification, but also presented values ​​of zero or less than the limit of detection in all analyzes carried out on the two microbiological parameters controlled and foreseen in the legislation (Escherichia coli e intestinal enterococci).
That is, in ALL the analyzes carried out there was not even the detection of any colony-forming unit. Three years are considered as it corresponds to the minimum period usually required by Directive 2006/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of February 15, 2006, concerning the management of the quality of bathing water, in order to proceed with the classification of the quality of the bathing area.
The data used in this analysis were transmitted by the APA – Portuguese Environment Agency (information also available on the APA website), responsible for coordinating these matters, namely for the classification of bathing waters and monitoring data.
Monitoring of bathing waters is a legal responsibility of the APA, on the mainland, of the Regional Directorate for Maritime Affairs (DRAM), in the Azores, and the Regional Directorate for Spatial Planning and Environment (DTROTA), in Madeira.


Some bathing season alerts
ZERO selected some aspects that it considers crucial at the beginning of the bathing season in many beaches:
– For environmental and safety reasons, only beaches classified as bathing areas should be visited, where the quality of the water is known and where there is surveillance;
– No waste should be left on the beach and, whenever possible, we should send it through selective collection;
– The landscape and ecosystems surrounding the bathing areas must be preserved, avoiding trampling dunes or other sensitive areas.


Discover the complete list of award-winning beaches across the country:


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