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File photo of Sandymount Strand
sea swimming

EPA updates list of good and bad bathing sites as wet weather puts pressure on beaches

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

WATER QUALITY AT the majority of Ireland’s bathing sites is of an acceptable or high standard.

A new report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals that 97% of sites, or 143 of 148, meet or exceed the minimum standard for cleanliness.

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

However, five bathing waters were classified as ‘poor’, up from three the previous year.

These are Front Strand Beach, Loughshinny Beach and Sandymount Strand in Co Dublin, as well as Lady’s Bay in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and Trá na mBan in Spidéal, Co Galway.

Sewage discharge, animal faeces and agriculture runoff all contributed to the contamination of these bathing sites.

The EPA said that the wet weather in July and August 2023 put pressure on beaches resulting in more beach closures “to protect public health”.

2023 rainfall demonstrated the need for “climate resilience”, it added.

45 pollution incidents were reported to the EPA last year, in comparison to 34 the previous year.

“Incidents have the potential to cause a pollution risk and, when they occur, swimming restrictions are applied at the beach until sampling shows the water quality is safe,” it said.

Local authorities also put up 228 ‘prior warning’ notices at beaches, to warn swimmers that short-term pollution (lasting no more than a few days) may occur due to heavy rainfall.

These warnings are removed when sampling shows the water quality is safe.

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

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