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Friday 2 June 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# Water quality
Here are the best and worst beaches in Ireland to go swimming
Seven coastal bathing waters have failed to meet the minimum standard.

NEARLY THREE QUARTERS of Ireland’s bathing waters are of excellent quality, according to a new report, though some urban beaches are failing to make the grade.

The Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 2017 report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found 132 of the 142 identified bathing waters (93%) meet strict EU standards. These include both coastal and inland bathing waters used by the public.

Nearly three quarters of bathing waters were classed as ‘excellent’ with 102 beaches and inland waters meeting the standard – the same number as in 2016. However, seven coastal areas failed to meet the minimum standard and are classified as poor.

Five of these are in the Dublin area – Sandymount and Merrion Strands, Loughshinny, Portrane and Rush South. The other two are Ballyloughane in Galway City and Clifden Co Galway.


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The report shows that these waters are all vulnerable to pollution events. Waters in and around Dublin Bay exhibit the greatest pressures from three main pollution sources - sewage discharges, contaminated surface streams and birds and other animals.

The EPA said the relevant local authorities, in conjunction with Irish Water, have plans in place to tackle the main pollution risks at these beaches with a view to improving them to at least ‘sufficient’ quality.

Trá na BhForbacha in Co Galway has improved and moved from ‘poor’ to ‘sufficient’ quality and three other beaches also showed improved performance in 2017.

Andy Fanning, programme manager for the EPA’s office of evidence and assessment, said the report shows urban beaches are under greater pressure than those in rural locations.

“More needs to be done to eliminate the sources of bacterial contamination that are particular to urban locations. The main issues are misconnections to surface water drains and other run off from urban environments, together with sewage discharges,” he said.

“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 EPA is asking the public to play a part in improving water quality by:

  • bringing your rubbish home with you
  • picking up dog poo and disposing of it rather than burying it in the sand
  • bringing waste food back home with you rather than leaving it for the birds
  • reporting pollution using the See it – Say it app.

People are advised to check current water quality information before they head to the beach this summer. Details of any incidents at the country’s main beaches are notified to the public via the @EPABeaches Twitter account.

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