Environmental Monitoring and Control

Bullet Quality of bathing water
Bullet Quality of potable water
Bullet Swimming Pools
Bullet Air Quality Monitoring Programme
Bullet Oil Pollution
Bullet Noise
Bullet Integrated Pollution, Prevention and Control
Bullet Solvents emissions
Bullet Dust

Quality of Bathing Water

The European Commission, in the 1970's, decided that bathing water quality should be monitored and tested in order to protect bathers from health risks and to preserve the environment from pollution. This resulted in 1976 in one of the first pieces of European environmental legislation: the Council Directive 76/160/EEC on Bathing Water Quality. This was transposed into local legislation by the Public Health (Quality of Bathing Water) Rules 1992. Prior to this the Directive had been given effect by a Ministerial Direction.

The 1976 Bathing Water Directive set binding standards for bathing waters throughout the European Union. The annual Bathing Water Report and Tourist Atlas can be viewed at the following EU site NB Gibraltar is listed under United Kingdom.
Annual Bathing Water Report

More information can be found at the European Environment Agency water page here.

The 1976 Bathing Water Directive reflected the state of knowledge and experience of the early 1970s, both technically and socially. Since 1976, epidemiological knowledge has progressed and managerial methods have improved.

A new Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) was adopted on the 15th February 2006. This has been transposed into Gibraltar law by the Environment (Quality of Bathing Water) Regulations 2009. Bathing sites will be classified into four categories: "excellent," "good," "sufficient" or "poor".

The new Directive laid down provisions for more sophisticated monitoring and classification of bathing water. Directive 2006/7/EC requires Member States to draw up a management plan for each site to minimise risks to bathers, based on an assessment of the sources of contamination that are likely to affect it.

Information on a bathing site's quality classification, the results of water quality monitoring, the site's management plan and other relevant information is to be made readily available to the public, both through displays at the site and through the media and internet.

The classification of water quality at a bathing site is determined on the basis of a three-year trend instead of a single year's result as at present. This means that the classification will be less susceptible to bad weather or one-off incidents. Where water quality is consistently good over a three-year period the frequency of sampling may be reduced.

Gibraltar has six bathing areas, Camp Bay, Catalan Bay, Eastern Beach, Little Bay, Sandy Bay and Western Beach. These areas are monitored on a weekly basis from the 15th April to 30th October each year.

The Gibraltar beaches have always met the Mandatory Values and at least three of them have met the more stringent Guide Values consistently each year. Below is a table of the results for the period 1997 - 2009.

Click on the beach name to view its latest analysis
Camp BayValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValue
Catalan BayValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValue
Eastern BeachValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValue
Little BayValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValue
Sandy BayValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValue
Western BeachValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValueValue
Value Meets Guide Values set by National legislation and EEC Directive 76/160/EEC
Value Meets Mandatory Values set by National legislation and EEC Directive 76/160/EEC
Value Fails Mandatory Values set by National Legislation and EEC Directive 76/160/EEC
NB - Where the laboratory has been unable to count the type of bacterial colonies the cells data is shown as blank

While the current directive 76/160/EEC (to be repealed by 31/12/2014) requires regular monitoring of a number of pollutants or other parameters (for example, water colour), the revised directive 2006/7/EC reduces this number to just two microbiological indicators of faecal contamination, E. Coli and Intestinal Enterococci. This simplification reflects recognition that faecal material, for instance due to inadequate sewage treatment and pollution from animal waste, is the primary health threat to bathers.

Further information is available here.

Quality of Potable Water
Bullet Environmental Quality Standards

Environmental Agency, as the nominated competent authority, uses a variety of standards and targets to help protect and improve water quality. The standards aim at controlling the risks to the quality of water abstracted from the sea for supply to our homes. Most of the standards support the requirements of European Directives.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sets international standards for drinking water. A broad classification of drinking water safety worldwide can be found here. Gibraltar has a water classification of five blue water droplets which is the top classification. Only 20% of countries have achieved this classification.

In Gibraltar, all of our drinking water (potable water), is obtained by the desalination of seawater. Our potable water supply network delivers a single quality of water, whether it is to be used for drinking or washing, domestic or commercial for example. In Gibraltar, public drinking water is controlled by the Public Health (Potable Water) Regulations 1994, the Public Health (Potable Water) Rules 1994, and the Public Health Act. These statutes transpose European Council Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption.
Bullet Gibraltar Water Supply
Bullet Gibraltar Water Supply Service

Bullet Monitoring of Potable Water

To make sure drinking water everywhere in the EU is indeed healthy, clean and tasty, the Directive sets standards for the most common substances (so-called parameters) that can be found in drinking water. A total of around 48 microbiological and chemical parameters must be monitored and tested regularly. In principle WHO guidelines for drinking water are used as a basis for the standards in the Drinking Water Directive. The Directive also stipulates the minimum number of samples and the type of monitoring to be conducted. There are basically two types of monitoring, Check Monitoring and Audit Monitoring.

1) Check Monitoring:
This type is used to regularly provide information on the organoleptic and microbiological quality of the drinking water supplied as well as the effectiveness of the drinking water treatment. The following parameters are the subject of the Check Monitoring in Gibraltar:

Bullet ColourBullet Ammonium
Bullet Turbidity Bullet Conductivity
Bullet OdourBullet Chlorides
Bullet TasteBullet Coliforms
Bullet pHBullet Escherichia Coli
Latest Check Monitoring Results For Gibraltar
Check Analysis Results

2) Audit Monitoring:
This type is conducted less frequently and is used to provide the information necessary to determine if all the parameters which are applicable to Gibraltar are being complied with. The following parameters are the subject of Audit Monitoring in Gibraltar.

Bullet ColourBullet Ammonium
Bullet Turbidity Bullet Conductivity
Bullet OdourBullet Chlorides
Bullet TasteBullet Coliforms
Bullet pHBullet Escherichia Coli
Bullet Enterococci Bullet Arsenic
Bullet BoronBullet Benzene
Bullet BromateBullet Antimony
Bullet CadmiumBullet Beno-a-pyrene
Bullet Chromium Bullet Copper
Bullet Dichloroethane Bullet Cyanide
Bullet Nickel Bullet Epicholorohydrin
Bullet Nitrate as NO3 Bullet Fluoride
Bullet Nitrite as NO2 Bullet Lead
Bullet Mercury Bullet Pesticides
Bullet Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Bullet Selenium
Bullet Tetrachloroethane Bullet Trichloroethane
Bullet Vinyl Chloride Bullet Aluminium
Bullet Ammonium Bullet Colour
Bullet Iron Bullet Manganese
Bullet Oxidisability Bullet Sulphate
Bullet Sodium
Latest Audit Monitoring Test For Gibraltar
Water Analysis Results

In Gibraltar, currently approximately 1,327,265 metric tons of drinking water is distributed annually which averages 3634 metric tons daily. The frequency of the Check and Audit monitoring required is dependent on this daily distribution figure. From the table below, Gibraltar is required to carry out a total of 16 Check monitoring and 3 Audit monitoring. The Environmental Agency carries out around 85 Check monitoring samples and 4 Audit samples annually, well over the required numbers. Aquagib Ltd also carries out a similar number of samples as part of their routine operational checks on the quality of the water they distribute.

Table: Minimum frequency of sampling and analyses for water intended for human consumption supplied from a distribution network. (Table B1 Schedule 2 Public Health (Potable Water) Rules 1994).

Volume of water distributed or produced each day within a supply zone (Notes 1 and 2) m3Check monitoring number of samples per year(Notes 3, 4 and 5)Audit monitoring number of samples per year(Notes 3 and 5)
= 100(Note 6)(Note 6)
>100 = 100041
>1000 = 10 0004 + 3 for each 1 000 m3/d and part thereof of the total volume+1 for each 3 300 m3/d and part thereof of the total volume
>10 000 = 100 0003 + 1 for each 10 000 m3/d and part thereof of the total volume
>100 000 10 + 1 for each 25 000 m3/d and part thereof of the total volume
1) A supply zone is a geographically defined area within which water intended for human consumption comes from one or more sources and within which water quality may be considered as being approximately uniform.
2) The volumes are calculated as averages taken over a calendar year. A Member State may use the number of inhabitants in a supply zone instead of the volume of water to determine the minimum frequency, assuming a water consumption of 200 litres/day/capita.
3. In the event of intermittent short-term supply the monitoring frequency of water distributed by tankers is to be decided by the Member State concerned.
4) For the different parameters in Annex I, a Member State may reduce the number of samples specified in the table if:
   a. the values of the results obtained from samples taken during a period of at least two successive years are constant and significantly better than the limits laid down in Annex I, and
   b. no factor is likely to cause a deterioration of the quality of the water.
   c. The lowest frequency applied must not be less than 50% of the number of samples specified in the table except in the particular case of note 6.
5) As far as possible, the number of samples should be distributed equally in time and location.
6) The frequency is to be decided by the Member State concerned.
Swimming Pools

Public swimming pools are checked regularly to ensure the water quality is safe for bathing bacteriologically and chemically. Private swimming pools are sampled on request and the Agency advises on the management of swimming pool water.

Air Quality Monitoring Programme

The Agency runs three air quality monitoring stations on behalf of the Government. These are located at:
(i) Rosia Road by the Gibraltar Electricity Authority offices.
(ii) Bleak House Car Park.
(iii) Witham's Road opposite Churchill House.

There is automatic monitoring of Sulphur Dioxide, Oxides of Nitrogen, Carbon Monoxide, Benzene and Ozone. There is also non-automatic monitoring of PM10, PM2.5 Lead, Cadmium, Nickel, Arsenic and Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Up to date automatic monitoring results as well as collected data from the non-automatic monitoring can be seen on-line at www.gibraltarairquality.gi This is the main source of air quality information for the region. It has been designed to inform you about the causes of poor air quality and what is being done about it, and also to let you know what air pollution is like currently or in the past.

Oil Pollution

With over three hundred ships a day passing through the Straits of Gibraltar and the busy activities in the Bay we are under the constant threat of pollution as a result of an oil spill. The Agency plays a central role together with the Fire and Port Departments in co-ordinating and executing the oil spill response plan for dealing with such incidents.

The Agency supervises the testing of the many oil and fuel pipelines which run underground.

Noise Pollution

Another often overlooked pollutant but one which is all around us is noise which has its own particular effects on our environment and health. Noise pollution is on the increase due to our lifestyle of powerful cars, motorcycles, aircraft, hi-fi systems, air conditioning units etc. Noise levels surveys are carried out, usually as a result of a complaint to the Agency, and an Abatement Notice may be served if the nuisance is deemed to exist. This may require the person or premises causing the excessive noise to either stop producing the noise or carry out sound insulation or other works to reduce the noise transmitted.

European Noise Directive

The Environmental Agency is the Competent Authority for Directive 2002/49 EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (commonly known as the European Noise Directive). The Directive was transposed into Gibraltar law by the Environmental (Assessment and Management of Noise) Regulations 2006.

Intergrated Pollution Prevention & Control

IPPC is a regulatory system that employs an integrated approach to control the environmental impacts of certain industrial activities. It applies to industry sectors for energy, metals, minerals, chemicals, waste management and a group of other activities such as textile treatment and food production.

It involves determining the appropriate controls for industry to protect the environment through a permitting process. To gain a permit, Operators will have to show that they have systematically developed proposals to apply the "Best Available Techniques" (BAT) and meet certain other requirements, taking account of relevant local factors. The essence of BAT is that the selection of techniques to protect the environment should achieve an appropriate balance between realising environmental benefits and costs incurred by Operators.

Through IPPC the Agency will ensure to: Protect the environment as a whole; Promote the use of "clean technology" to minimize waste at source; Encourage innovation, by leaving significant responsibility for developing satisfactory solutions to environmental issues with industrial Operators. Once a permit has been issued, other parts of IPPC come into play. These include compliance monitoring, periodic permit reviews and variations of permit conditions. IPPC also requires the restoration of sites when the permitted activities cease to operate. IPPC operates under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 2001. This Act implements the EC Directive 96/61 on IPPC. At present two local existing installations have been permitted under the IPPC regime and a further permit has been granted to the proposed new power station which is to be operated by Gibelec.

Solvent Emission

Certain industrial activities that use solvents are regulated by the Solvent Emissions Act 2001. This Act transposed the provisions of Council Directive 1999/13/EC on the limitation of the emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installation.

Organic solvents are used in many industrial processes and owing to their volatility, some of these solvents are released to the atmosphere. Once released, they undergo a series of complex reactions resulting in the formation of ground-level ozone, an air pollutant. Vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with chronic disease are particularly sensitive to the effects of air pollution. Ozone can also damage crops and vegetation. A number of other solvents, such as carcinogens and mutagens are also harmful to human health.

The Act limits the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the use of organic solvents, and is intended to reduce air pollution and protect human health. The Directive also has the intended purpose to require safer substitutes for solvents known to be carcinogens, mutagens, etc.

The following table shows typical activities that fall within the scope of the Directive:

Coating UsePrinting and Adhesive Use Other
Vehicle refinishing, coil coating, wood coating, leather coating, coating of winding wire, vehicle coating, other coating.Heat set printing, publication gravure printing, other printing, wood/plastic lamination, adhesive coating.Surface cleaning, dry cleaning, wood impregnation, coating manufacture, rubber conversion, vegetable oil extraction, pharmaceutical manufacture.

For listed activities to fall within the requirements of the Act they must have a solvent consumption greater than the specific threshold for that listed activity. These activities operators must meet the common conditions set out in the Act and in Article 5 of the Directive and one of the following three options:

  1. Emission limit values in waste gases and the fugitive emission values; or
  2. The total emission limit; or
  3. The requirements of the reduction scheme.

The first option imposes concentration limits on releases and sets fugitive emission values as a percentage of solvent input into the process. The second option imposes a limit related to production, for example 25g of VOCs can be released per pair of footwear manufactured. The third option allows the operator to use an alternative reduction scheme, provided it achieves the same reduction in releases that would have been achieved if the emission limit values had been imposed.


New legislation has been passed recently to control dust emissions in Gibraltar. The Environment (Control of Dust) Regulations 2010 .seek to prevent, reduce or control dust emissions from the following activities or operations:

Bullet Dismantling or demolition of buildings
BulletConstruction works and excavations
BulletRefurbishment works
BulletMining, road building and all other engineering works
Bullet Processing or stock piling of solid bulk materials, including sand, grit, gravel, rock, dirt, sawdust and ash
BulletOperation of machines, equipment or vehicles
BulletOperation and use of unpaved land for any purpose whatsoever
BulletAny agricultural or horticultural activity or process
BulletAny other type of operation, process or activity prescribed by the Minister by notice in the Gazette

Any person undertaking any of the above activities or operations must apply for a certificate of approval from the Chief Environmental Health Officer. A Dust Control Plan must accompany the application. As a minimum. It is recommended that the Dust Control Plan incorporates the recommendations contained in Dust- Best Practice Guide produced by the Department of the Environment, Government of Gibraltar.