Bathing at most popular spots at one's own risk
Ljubljana, 17 August - Slovenians seek relief from heat along the coast or along thousands of kilometres of waterways inland during each summer. But despite what seems an abundance of opportunities to cool off, only 18 such spots have a lifeguard service during the bathing season, and all are concentrated on the coast and in Bled.
Bathing in nature is allowed everywhere in Slovenia, unless specifically prohibited. However, water quality is monitored by the Environment Agency at only 48 locations designated with bathing water status.
Only 18 of these have a lifeguard service, 14 along the sea coast, three at the Bled lake and one at the nearby Šobec Bajer, a pond inside a camping site not far from Lake Bled.
Bathing at all other locations in the country, either with or without bathing water status, is done at one's own risk.
The Institute for Water has recently revised bathing water criteria, under which some of the areas are to be struck from the list and some would be added, but would not reveal any further details.
Apart from the 14 locations along the sea shore and the four in Bled, the list of bathing waters includes locations at the Bohinj lake and along the rivers Soča, Krka, Kolpa, Idrijca and Nadiža.
These locations are marked with signposts by the Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry, while municipalities are in charge of all other bodies of water and may prohibit bathing in areas with a high risk of drowning or prescribe safety measures.
Nearly three weeks ago a ten-year-old drowned at a popular bathing spot on the river Soča, just over a kilometre downstream from a hydro power station, where the water flow is regulated by means of gates. There had been drownings at the spot before.
After the accident the municipality vowed to improve bathing safety by installing colour-scale poles in the water to help bathers see whether the water level is starting to increase.
The local authorities came under much criticism in the past weeks because they decided to take action only after the tragic accident at a river that has been a popular summer destination for years.