20th June

Majority of Ireland's bathing waters are of high quality

The Bathing Water Quality in Ireland  2017 produced by the Environmental Protection Agency has found that overall quality remains good with 132 of 142 identified coastal or inland waters meeting strict EU standards.

Sandycove

Sandycove, Co Dublin. Local authority bathing water achieved 'excellent' status from 82 samples

Nearly three-quarters of bathing waters were classed as 'excellent' with 102 beaches and bathing waters meeting the standard. Seven coastal bathing waters however failed to meeting the minimum standard and were classified as 'poor'. 

The agency's assessment shows that urban beaches are under greater pressure than rural locations:

"More needs to be done to eliminate the sources of bacterial contamination that are particular to urban locations," remarked Andy Fanning, Office of Evidence and Assessment.

The main issues identified are misconnection to surface water drains and other run off from urban environments, along with sewage discharges.

"Work is needed by local authorities, Irish Water, businesses and homeowners to ensure that contaminated wastewater is correctly collected and treated before being released into the environment."

The report also give details of 80 bathing waters monitored by local authorities. 

"While these waters are not covered by the regulations, they are monitored by local authorities because bathing or recreational activites are known to take place there and it is important to let the public know about the water quality," remarked Peter Webster, Senior Scientific Officer. 

Throughout the summer season (June 1-Sept 15), water quality information and details of incidents affecting bathing waters will be displayed on the EPA's beach website.

Key findings

  • 93% of identified bathing waters ( 132 of 142) complied with EU minimum standards and were classified as achieving at least 'sufficient' status
  • Nearly 75% (102) were classified as 'excellent'
  • 12% (18) were classified as 'good'
  • 7.1% (12)  were classifeid as 'sufficient' but remain at risk of episodic pollutent events
  • 4.9% (7) failed to meet the miniumum required standard and were classified as 'poor' 
  • 3 new beaches designated for protection under the bathing water regulations (Dooey and Magheroarty, Co Donegal and Seafield Quilty, Co Clare) will be formally classified in 2018.

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