EPA calls for water quality at popular bathing spots to be monitored all year round
This is as more people have taken up swimming throughout the year since the pandemic.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is calling for water quality at popular bathing spots to be monitored all year round.
Local authorities are responsible for the management of water quality at Irish beaches and monitor the water over the bathing season from 1 June to 15 September.
The water is tested over the course of the season for two indicators of contamination - E. coli and Enterococci - which indicate if animal or human waste may have polluted the water.
The bacteria can contain pathogens and viruses that can make people sick.
Programme Manager with the EPA Mary Gurrie has said that, as more people have taken up swimming since the Covid-19 pandemic, the environmental regulator wants further monitoring to be carried out at popular bathing spots all year round.
Gurrie told Newstalk Breakfast Weekends: "It's very clear, particularly since the pandemic, that more and more people are swimming year-round."
Asked if testing should be carried out throughout the year, she replied: "Yeah... the EPA when we released our report there just a few weeks ago, we did call for further monitoring to be carried out at these popular bathing spots - in particular where people are swimming year round - and to try and get more information for people about maybe the risks.
"The water quality will not be as good in winter. That's the reality. It does tend to get impacted if you've rainfall where either agricultural waste can get washed into the rivers and then onto the beaches or urban waste water... storm water overflows from sewage treatment plants for example.
"That can be more of a problem in the winter period... and further monitoring would help support people in making decisions about where to swim. So yes, certainly. The EPA is supporting that."
Gurrie urged swimmers to check Beaches.ie for the most up to date information about a bathing spot.