First ban on outdoor bathing

Prague's Hygiene Station publishes information on outdoor areas

The outdoor bathing spot at Šeberák in Prague's Kunratice district has been closed due to cyanobacteria. It is the first closure of this season by the Prague Hygiene Station. The water quality at Šeberák was high last year, though it did show some deterioration after the middle of July.

If the situation improves, the swimming area could reopen this year. The operators have to increase monitoring of the lake and take more samples. Sampling will be done every five to nine days. As long as there is a problem, the operator has to post a sign at the entrance informing the public.

“We have issued a decision on the ban on bathing because cyanobacteria can seriously endanger the health of bathers,” Jan Jarolímek, director of the Prague Hygiene Station, said on the stations website.

Cyanobacteria, which turns water green and used to be called blue-green algae, can cause rashes, red eyes, runny noses and difficulty breathing. It can also lead to bowel problems and headaches. Severe cases can result in liver damage.

Water quality at Hostivař in Prague 10 is poor due to cyanobacteria, but the location has not been closed. The conditions are not as bad as in Šeberák.

The popular bathing spot at Džbán in Prague 6 also has a warning for poor visibility in the water. The warning is less severe than the one for Hostivař. Džbán is located in the Divoká Šárka nature reserve and is one of the city's most popular summer spots.

Excellent water quality has been monitored at the pond at Motol, the pool with natural purification at Radotin and the concrete pool (betonová nádrž) at Divoká Šárka.

“The quality of water in the capital is continually monitored. Sampling is carried out either by the operator of the natural swimming pool itself or directly by Prague hygienists,” Jarolímek said. Swimming areas are monitored from May to September on a monthly or biweekly basis, depending on the conditions. The law says that the swimming area operator must ensure that bathers are not exposed to health risks from water pollution.

The water quality status of outdoor swimming areas is published on the Prague Hygiene Station website using simple color-coded smiley-face emoticons so that even with a limited grasp of the Czech language the status is clear. A blue smiley face is the best. A black frowning face means it is closed for health reasons. In between, there are colored blank-face emoticons, neither smiling or frowning.

For information on the status of outdoor swimming areas, visit www.hygpraha.cz/koupaliste (CZ)

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