Health-based monitoring of recreational waters
The feasibility of a new approach (the "Annapolis protocol")
In 1994, following discussions between the WHO Regional Office for Europe and WHO Headquarters it was agreed to initiate the development of Guidelines concerning recreational use of the water environment. Guidelines of this type represent primarily a consensus view amongst experts on the risks to health represented by various media and activities; and are based upon critical review of the available evidence. The Guidelines for Safe Recreational-water Environments, which result from this process, are being released in two volumes: Volume 1 (WHO, 1998) addresses coastal and freshwaters and Volume 2 (WHO, 1999) swimming pools spas and similar recreational-water environments.
During the development of Volume 1 of the Guidelines for Safe Recreational-water Environments concerns were repeatedly expressed regarding the adequacy and effectiveness of present approaches to monitoring and assessment. In response to these concerns the text Monitoring Bathing Waters was developed (Bartram and Rees Eds, 1999 published by E&FN Spon on behalf of WHO, the Commission of the European Communities and USEPA).
During the preparation of Monitoring Bathing Waters the United States Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) supported WHO in organising an expert consultation to look into the adequacy and effectiveness of present approaches to monitoring and assessment linked to effective management of microbiological hazards in coastal and freshwater recreational waters. The meeting was implemented in November 1998 in Annapolis, USA. The output of the meeting was the development of such an approach, which has become known as the 'Annapolis Protocol'. The 'protocol' is reported here and is also published in Monitoring Bathing Waters.