The quality of Albania’s bathing water in coastal areas has improved significantly between 2015 and 2019, according to a report by the European Environment Agency.
In 2015, it noted that some 40% of coastal bathing areas, equating to 31 sites were classified as “poor” in terms of water quality. Most of these sites were along the coast in Durres, one of the country’s main tourism destinations and the second-largest city in Albania.
Since then, the report says that the state has paid significant attention to the water sector in Durres. The World Bank has also supported investment in the water supply network and in constructing pipes to link villages to the city water supply system.
Furthermore, the local sewerage system and its ability to transfer wastewater from the beach area to the wastewater treatment plant were enhanced. In the last few years, a total of five wastewater treatment plants providing service for almost 500,000 residents have been built in the country. This has gradually contributed to increased quality bathing conditions and better overall water quality.
As of 2019, only seven sites were classified as ‘poor’. This will lead to a better potential for tourism in Albania. The report notes that tourism contributes to 8% of the GRP and improving the quality of bathing water, it will pave the way for Albania to become an established and well-recognized tourist destination.
Locations that care a cause for concern include Sarande, Vlore, and Durres.
The report also looked at inland bathing waters and observed that lakes in Albania are at risk to the effects of drought. There will need to be adequate management of water levels while allowing enough for agriculture, industry, and tourism to continue, the report said.
Despite this positive assessment, Albania still has a problem with plastic waste being deposited into the sea. The Municipality of Tirana is the 4th biggest offender for leaking waste and plastic into the Mediterranean.
This is quite an achievement considering Durres which actually sits on the coast, only contributes 443 tonnes per year.
According to the IUCN “The Mediterranean: Mare plasticum” report, it leaks 1,123 tonnes of waste into the sea every year. It was beaten by Podgorica with 1662 tonnes, Rome with 1809 tonnes, and Muntazah with 1912 tonnes. It performed better than Skopje., Tripoli, and four other big Egyptian cities.
It’s estimated that in total, Albania leaks almost. 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste into the Mediterranean every year. This puts it in fifth place overall in terms of countries, beaten by Algeria, Turkey, Italy, and Egypt. According to the data, Albania is the worst offender for plastic waste passing into the ocean in the Western Balkans.
It notes that part of the issue is the fact that around 80,000 tonnes of plastic waste are mismanaged by the government- again, some of the highest rates in the region.
Every year, some 1.08 million tonnes of waste is produced by Albanians. Most of this goes into landfills, around 18% is recycled, and the rest is incinerated. INSTAT found that the average Albanian creates 381 kg of waste every year, according to this report, just over 3kg per person ends up in the sea.