Water Quality and Risk Assessment of Beaches

 / Research / National / Water Quality & Safety Risk of Blue Flag Beaches

The Project

In order to plan for sustainable tourism and a healthy coastal environment, MoEF&CC has conceived an integrated coastal management scheme viz. BEAMS (also referred to as Beach Management Services) to reduce existing pollutants on beaches and to aspire & achieve such high International Standards in India. The main objective of establishing the BEAMS programme is to promote sustainable development in coastal regions of India for the beach management authorities to strive to achieve high international standards in the four categories of:

  • Environmental Management including cleanliness, solid waste management in beaches
  • Environment Education
  • Safety & Security of Beachgoers and
  • Bathing Water Quality Standards

The Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) has initiated the process for clean beaches in 13 pilot beaches (one pilot beach in every Coastal State/UT) under this programme and in line with “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” SICOM in its pursuit of “Sustainable Development” of the coastal regions of India embarked upon a highly acclaimed & flagship program “BEAMS” (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services). This was aimed at striving for the coveted International eco-label “Blue flag”, accorded by The Foundation of Environment Education, FEE Denmark.

The objective of the BEAMS program is to abate pollution in coastal waters & beaches, promote sustainable development of beach amenities/ facilities, protect & conserve coastal ecosystems & natural resources and encourage local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene, safety and security for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment norms & regulations. This program promotes beach tourism and recreation in absolute harmony with nature; is unique in that sense.

During the month of October 2020; 8 beaches of India, spread across five states and two union territories, have been awarded the “BLUE FLAG” Certification by an International Jury comprising of eminent members viz UNEP, UNWTO, FEE, IUCN and has also been awarded a 3rd Prize by the International Jury under the “International Best Practices” for pollution control in coastal regions.

The beaches that have been awarded the ‘BLUE FLAG” are Shivrajpur (Dwarka-Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (AP), Golden (Puri-Odisha) and Radhanagar (A&N Islands).

Water quality

Beachwater quality criteria are widely used to make management decisions, such as issuing swim advisories and opening or closing beaches for tourism, bathing and water sports etc. Warning signs are posted at beaches to inform the public of the health risk, and in most cases, shared online as well. High bacteria exceedances can happen at any time, but often occur during and following a rain event. Rain falling over developed coastal areas results in polluted stormwater and urban runoff reaching the beach that could contain animal waste, untreated sewage, toxic substances, and more. While variable by location and weather, it can take three days or more for water quality conditions to return to safe levels after it rains. The study focuses on assessing the health of the beaches with an emphasis on their present status and associated potential threats. This will provide a holistic view on the efficiency of the existing regulatory measures and enable improved measures for better monitoring and management plans.

Table 1:  Water quality Standards for recreation/ bathing prescribed by the CPCB

Water quality

The water of the selected flag beaches must be suitable for bathing. In India the water quality standards for bathing, Contact Water Sports and Commercial Fishing has been fixed by CPCB (SW-II)


*(For Bathing, Contact Water Sports and Commercial Fishing)

Risk Assessment

The coastal zone is divided into surf zone, breaker zone and deeper zone.  Most of the beach users confine themselves to the surf zone and only professional swimmers venture into the deeper zones.  Breaker zone is by and large avoided by the beach users due to furious nature of wave force at the breaking point and for fear of drowning.  The Risk assessment to be carried out in surf and deeper zones has been divided into i) Physical, ii) Water quality (chemical and microbiological) and iii) Biological organisms that are harmful.  The coastal waters adjoining the beach experience physical phenomena such as the waves, currents and tides.  These are natural factors and their effects on beaches are by and large governed by bathymetry (topography) of the coastal waters.

Water Quality & Safety Risk of Blue Flag Beaches


Quantify the biogeochemical controls of Greenhouse gas emissions in pristine and impacted mangrove ecosystems and determine emission inventories.


  • Greenhouse gas emissions from Pristine and Impacted Blue carbon ecosystems

    • Identification of the processes governing emissions in coastal ecosystems through various field-based and laboratory-based measurements
  • Real time exchange of greenhouse gases and energy in mangrove ecosystems

    • Comprehensive understanding of the source-sink characteristics and the degree of biosphere-atmosphere coupling of mangrove ecosystems