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Harbour bathing


Detailed description of the Good Practice

In the summer of 2001 it became possible to bathe in the inner harbour of Copenhagen. At Islands Brygge a pavilion for public bathing was established by the municipality, and became an instant success with. Thousands of people from Copenhagen and its suburbs were visiting the bath over the summer. It has become
one of the (in not the) major environmental successes in Copenhagen due to its very visible and tangible character, which makes environmental progress very understandable. The municipality of Copenhagen has used pictures from the harbour bath intensively to promote the image as a green municipality (for instance as "the environmental capital of Europe")

It was the massive investments in detention basins along the harbour that enabled bathing. By establishing detention basins along the harbour, the overflows of sewage have been reduced from 1.600.000 to 800.000 m3 per year. In the Southern Harbour alone, the overflows have been reduced from 600.000 m3 to
300.000 m3, in overflows corresponding to a reduction from app. 20 to 7-8 per year. Two to four of the overflows take place in the bathing season.
An important detail for making bathing practically possible was the establishment of a warning system that warns the bathers about overflows from the detention basins. The warning system consists of censors measuring how much water runs from the detention basins to the harbour (1 time per second). This is logged and sent to Copenhagen Energy, who collects the data and sends it on to
DHI (Danish Hydraulic Company, a private company), who puts the data into the MIKE-model of the Copenhagen harbour. This allows fast estimations on whether an overflow makes the water exceed the limits, and the bathng sites should be closed temporarily (a red flag signalises that the water is temporarily polluted and bathing is prohibited). Before the system was installed, control measures were made from different places in the harbour, to be sure that the model was able to calculate the same values as measured in reality.
Copenhagen Energy has the responsibility of establishing detention basins along the harbour.

urban planning
water management

Objectives of the Good Practice

a. The idea of a harbour bath occurred because of plans being drawn up to use the harbour for recreational purposes as existing industries were moving out, and the improved water quality due to investments in detention basins, - as opposed to initiation due to a problem.
b. The objectives of establishing the detention basins were to improve the sewage treatment in general, and to improve the quality of the local recipients (by limiting overflows).

Participants of the Good Practice

Municipality of Copenhagen

Target group of the Good Practice


Funding of the Good Practice

Municipality of Copenhagen

More Details of the Good Practice

Available files

Contact details

Mr. Jan Burgdorf Nielsen, Copenhagen EPA. Tlf. 33 66 58 00

Data sources and references

PETUS project
www.petus.eu.com (Accessed July 29, 2009)