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Majority Of Ireland’s Bathing Waters Excellent.

  • The quality of Ireland’s bathing water is very high overall with 97 per cent (144 of 148) of sites meeting or exceeding the minimum standard.
  • Of these, 117 bathing sites (79%) had excellent water quality which is an increase from 115 in the previous year.
  • This is attributed to on-going management of bathing sites by local authorities and investment in urban wastewater infrastructure in recent years.
  • However, localised issues remain and 3 beaches have poor bathing water quality, where swimmers are advised not to swim.
  • Swimmers and other water users’ health would be further protected by local authorities officially designating more bathing sites and providing better information for those who wish to swim year-round.

The EPA has today published the ‘Bathing Water Quality in Ireland‘ report for 2022, which shows that water quality at the majority of Ireland’s bathing waters meets or exceeds the appropriate standards. 79% of bathing sites have ‘Excellent’ water quality while 97% meet the minimum standard.

In particular, the EPA highlights two beaches that have improved from Poor to Excellent quality over recent years: Portrane, the Brook Beach in Co. Dublin, and Trá na bhForbacha, Na Forbacha in Co. Galway. This shows that with investment and a strong focus by the local authorities in finding and fixing the issues, water quality can and will improve.

Commenting on the report, Dr Eimear Cotter, (Director of the Office of Evidence and Assessment), said:
“The on-going improvement in our bathing waters is very welcome and shows that good management of our bathing areas can give a high level of health protection for swimmers and other water users. Year-round swimming continues to be popular and the EPA looks forward to the outcome of the work, led by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, which is investigating how to protect bathers’ health year-round.
Unfortunately, there were no new bathing waters identified in 2022. The EPA urges local authorities to designate more official bathing sites to protect swimmers’ health, which includes designating the large number of beaches and popular swimming spots that they monitor but which haven’t been formally identified as bathing waters.”

The number of beaches with poor bathing water quality increased to three, compared with two in 2021. These will have a swimming restriction for the 2023 season. They are Balbriggan (Front Strand Beach), Co, Dublin; Lady’s Bay, Buncrana, Co. Donegal and Trá na mBan, An Spidéal, Co. Galway, with different issues including wastewater discharges, run-off from urban and agricultural lands as well as dog and other animal fouling, playing a part.

At some beaches, heavy rainfall can lead to wastewater overflows or run-off from urban and agricultural lands which can lead to a temporary deterioration in bathing water quality. Further information on bathing water and updates on monitoring results during the bathing water season (1st June to 15th September) is available HERE.

For further information: Contact Ms Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office, Tel: 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie

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