A destination that boasts of attractive beaches and safe waters promises to draw tourists and thus serves to boost the nation’s tourism industry. The city of Copenhagen succeeded in providing locals and visitors a recreational bathing area in the very heart of the city, amidst the beauty of its world-renowned harbour.

City of Copenhagen, Denmark


Case story flyer


Copenhagen’s harbour faces the same threats to water quality as any other harbour: heavy rainfall, frequent release of sewage water and induced pathogenic bacteria. However, DHI – in collaboration with the City and HOFOR (the provider of the sewer data) – developed an innovative Bathing Water Forecast (BWF) system. In doing so, we transformed the city’s harbour and provided complete value for the investments made by the city for the sewer. Today the downtown swimming area is a popular leisure destination where visitors can safely enjoy without the fear of contracting waterborne diseases.


A complex bathing water forecast system made simple for the user

The BWF system is a highly complex, integrated piece of technology that DHI adapted and tailored to suit the unique needs of Copenhagen’s harbour. Given the system’s complexity, it was important that DHI design it with its various end-users in mind. This meant making it simple to operate and delivering various targeted information which is easy to understand for both the general public and the authorities. DHI achieved this key objective by taking an innovative approach to the design. We combined sensory systems, predictive tools and user-friendly dashboards that worked in combination to provide continuous monitoring of the harbour’s water quality and real-time information to users.

Forming a complete picture with constant data collection from multiple sources

The system constantly monitors the harbour’s water and predicts the concentration of the indicator bacteria Escherichia coli and Enterococci at specified locations along the water courses from the city to the harbour. To help forecast frequent pollution threats, DHI collects meteorological data from forecast suppliers and runs hydrodynamic models to retrieve data. All this information is then used to create models to demonstrate forecasts using DHI’s proprietary MIKE Powered by DHI and MIKE ECO Lab software.

Choosing the best suited methodology

The BWF system relies on online data and a MIKE 11 model to deliver inflow of waters from the city into the harbour. This is followed by a MIKE 3 FM model calculating the transport of pollutants and a MIKE ECO Lab model for describing the fate of the bacteria to produce a complete predictive pollution forecast.

Hence, the model system can also be used as a highly effective tool to assess and identify the most cost effective method to address solutions to improve water quality and reduce risk of pollution.

Information and warnings made easily accessible across multiple media platforms

We created user-friendly dashboards on multiple media platforms to ensure that information is constantly and conveniently accessible to those who need it:

  • Public websites are updated with the forecasts and can be accessed by anyone who intends to use the harbour bath
  • Alerts via sms provides an early warning when water quality drops as well as a notification when the water is safe again
  • Smartphone apps make updates conveniently accessible
  • Managers’ web gives access to detailed time series for the authorities to help them make informed and timely decisions
  • Managers’ log pages provide evaluation and quality reports on measurements and model performances


Clean, safe and appealing waters in the heart of the city

With the BWF system ensuring that the health of the public is never compromised, DHI has helped the general public overcome its scepticism about the water quality in the harbour. As a result, Copenhagen harbour has been transformed from an industrial port to a vibrant cultural and social centre of the city.

For almost twenty years, Copenhagen’s residents have been taking advantage of the natural terraced landscape of the harbour bath with its piers, boat ramps, playgrounds and pontoons, and enjoying a water playground in the heart of the city. This landmark project has enabled DHI to showcase how effective integrated strategies can succeed in delivering safe water quality, and people can now do what used to be unthinkable in Copenhagen—swim in the harbour. In achieving this result, DHI has set the standards for best practices in harbour water quality management worldwide.

Dynamic models providing
information as and when required

Early detection of pollution threats and reliable forecast of water quality

Efficient forecasting has reduced unwanted
closure of harbour

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