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16th May 2024

Five Irish beaches closed due to poor water quality

Simon Kelly

Irish beaches

Three are in Dublin.

Five Irish beaches have been closed due to poor water quality as we head into the summer months.

There are five beaches nationwide out of use due to poor water quality — an increase of two compared to 2022, according to a report by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

Discharges from wastewater overflows and misconnections are the main issue at these beaches.

The beaches are listed below

Balbriggan, Front Strand Beach, Co Dublin, which is impacted by sewage discharges and misconnections; faeces from dogs, birds and other animals and contaminated surface streams flowing through the town.

Loughshinny Beach, Co Dublin, which is impacted by sewage discharges, misconnections from domestic plumbing systems, septic tanks, faeces from dogs, horses and birds, and contaminated streams which flow into the bathing water.

Sandymount Strand, Co Dublin, which is impacted by pollution from contaminated streams, misconnections, sewage discharges and faeces from dogs and birds.

Lady’s Bay, Buncrana, Co Donegal, which is impacted by Buncrana waste water treatment plant, combined stormwater overflows, and surface run-off, which are made worse by heavy rainfall.

Trá na mBan, An Spidéal, Co Galway, which is impacted by the Spiddal sewer network, run-off from agriculture, and discharges from septic tanks.

The designated bathing season in Ireland is from June 1 to September 15.

Five Irish beaches closed due to poor water quality

The report states that bathing water quality can be impacted by heavy rainfall, resulting in waste water overflows and runoff from agricultural lands and urban areas which can cause short-term deterioration in water quality.

The wet weather in July and August 2023 led to a higher number of beach closures than previous years.

The report finds that bathing water quality in 2023 was high overall, with 97% (143 of 148) of sites meeting or exceeding the minimum standard, the same number as in 2022.

114 bathing sites (77%) had excellent water quality, down from 117 in 2022.

45 beaches were closed in 2023, an increase of 11 from 2022, due to pollution incidents, overflow in the sewer network and algal blooms.

Sandymount Strand - Dublin beaches
Sandymount Strand (Rolling News)

Director of the EPA Dr Eimear Cotter said that while bathing water quality is generally very good, “there is a need to build climate resilience into the management of bathing waters to reduce the risk of pollution following heavy rainfall.

This needs action by all sectors including Uisce Éireann, local authorities, and agriculture to reduce overflows from urban waste water systems, and runoff from urban areas and agricultural land.

“While beach closures play an important role in protecting bathers’ health, local authorities need to improve their understanding of the pressures which can impact beaches in the context of changing rainfall patterns.”

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Topics:

Beaches