23rd September

Irish bathing water awarded 'excellent' status in vast majority of locations

The overall quality of Ireland's bathing waters continues to be "extremely good" despite cool and sometimes wet and windy conditions in summer 2015, according to Dr Matt Crowe, director of EPA's Office of Evidence and Assessment.

Commenting at the launch of the Environmental Protection Society's  Bathing Water Quality in Ireland - A Report for the Year 2015, he added that stricter standards were providing "a high level of protection for bathers".


Six bathing waters however failed to reach the minimum mandatory standard (Merrion Strand, Rush South Beach and Loughskinny, Co Dublin; Youghal, Co Cork; Duncannon, Co Wexford and Ballyloughnane, Co Galway).  Four of these beaches were also classified 'poor' quality in 2014. 

Additional newly classifed as 'poor' are Merrion Strand and Loughskinny, Co Dublin. Merrion Strand is termed "complex" due to impacts from nearby streams and from a growing number of seabirds causing microbiological pollution. 

The relevant local authorities and Irish Water have management plans in place to tackle the main pollution risks, designed to return these beaches to 'sufficient' quality at a minimum "within the next year or two", he added.

In addition to the 137 EU identified bathing waters assessed in the report, details are also included of local authority monitored bathing areas. While they do not come under the legal framework of the Bathing Water Regulations, "it is important to let the public know about their quality and we would like to see many of them included in the national programme in the future", remarked Peter Webster, EPA senior scientific officer.

Asked if it was unsafe to swim in bathing waters classified as 'poor', he said there was a "risk" of periodic microbiological pollution.

"Under the Bathing Water Regulations, local authorities are required to put in place notifications for the entire bathing season to advise the public against bathing which could include a bathing prohibition if a serious pollution occurs."

The bathing season in Ireland is designated as being June 1-September 15.

Bathing Water Quality in Ireland - A Report for the Year 2015

Map of the quality of Ireland's bathing water 

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