Is the water safe for swimming? Everyone can analyze it

As the warm days attract the first eager swimmers to the water in the Czech Republic, regional hygiene stations have started checking water quality in swimming areas. People can now use their services to evaluate the water quality before jumping in. The swimming season has officially begun.

According to Jana Loosová, director of the Regional Hygiene Station in Liberec, it is not difficult to decide where to swim and where not to swim. For unknown bodies of water, people can look around and explore whether there is, for example, agricultural runoff. People can also make their amateur water analysis.

“If I have a PET bottle, I fill it up and leave it for twenty minutes. Then I can see how the green particles move in the water column. If they form a slurry on the bottle’s surface, it’s cyanobacteria. If they are on the bottom or in the column, it’s algae,” Loosová describes.

Monitoring water quality for swimming is essential, according to Loosová. “When cyanobacteria are present in the water, they can cause rashes or eye inflammation,” Loosová explained.

“If it is cyanobacteria that produce toxins, they can cause gastrointestinal or digestive problems, headaches, or even liver problems,” added the director of the Regional Hygiene Station in Liberec.

“If I am going to swim in the region where I live, I can also find out the water quality on the website of the relevant regional hygiene station. If I am going on vacation to another region, I can use the website, which provides information on all bodies of water in the Czech Republic. Information boards should be available at all monitored bodies of water,” Loosová advises.

Transparency, temperature, and pH

On Monday morning, hygiene officers took the first water samples, for example, at the famous Mšeno dam in Jablonec nad Nisou, and will continue to collect on other bodies of water.

The results of the samples taken this week will be published on Friday. Hygiene officers not only monitor cyanobacteria. They also examine viruses and bacteria in the collected water samples in the laboratory, which are associated with fecal contamination in water, and compare their occurrence throughout the swimming season. Similarly, the development of cyanobacteria or algae is compared.

“When cyanobacteria are present in the water, they can cause rashes or eye inflammation,” warns Jana Loosová, a hygiene officer.

Hygiene officers use various devices to collect water samples, such as a particular funnel to collect water samples and determine the number of cyanobacteria.

“Then we also use Secchi’s disk to determine water transparency or a device to measure pH and water temperature,” said Ondřej Kovář, head of the Department of General and Municipal Hygiene at the Jablonec workplace of the Regional Hygiene Station.