The majority of bathing waters in Ireland were identified as ‘excellent’.
Only five out of 145 bathing waters in Ireland were identified as ‘poor’, according to the 2018 EPA Bathing Water report, published on Thursday, which sets out bathing water quality during the summer of 2018.
Three of the five bathing waters identified as poor are located in Dublin - Sandymount Strand, Merrion Strand and Portrane (the Brook) Beach; Lilliput (Lough Ennell) in Westmeath and Clifden in Galway were also identified as poor in the report.
2018 was the fourth year in a row that Merrion Strand was classified as poor, while Portrane (The Brook) Beach and Clifden have received a poor classification for the past three years.
Sandymount Strand has been classified as poor for the past two years, while Lilliput (Lough Ennell), deteriorated to poor in 2018 having been classified as good in 2017.
According to the EPA, the fact that any bathing water has been classified as ‘poor’ means that there is a risk of periodic microbiological pollution which could potentially cause illness, such as skin rashes or gastric upset.
Under the Bathing Water Regulations, local authorities are required to put in place notifications for the entire bathing season advising the public against bathing. This could include a bathing prohibition if a serious pollution incident occurs.
145 bathing waters were identified in total in 2018, an increase of three on the previous year, and all three bathing waters identified for the first time - Dooey and Magheraroarty in Donegal and Seafield Quilty in Clare - received an excellent classification.
Encouragingly, 103 of the 145 bathing waters were classified as excellent, while a further 22 were classified as good and 12 classified as sufficient; in total, 94% of identified bathing waters (137 of 145) met at least the minimum EU standards.
Improvements were made in three bathing waters previously classified as poor: Loughshinny and Rush (South Beach) in Fingal and Ballyloughane near Galway City.
Three bathing waters at Forty Foot Bathing Place, Sandycove Beach and White Rock Beach were newly identified in 2018 and will be classified following the 2019 bathing season; the bathing season in Ireland runs from 1 June to 15 September.
Commenting on the report, Andy Fanning, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment said: “It is great to see local authorities identifying new bathing waters with excellent water quality. At the other end of the scale, we have five bathing waters that have been classified as poor. More intensive action needs to be taken by local authorities to address the issues and protect the health of bathers.”