According to a new EPA report 73% of Ireland’s bathing waters are ‘Excellent’ quality but six beaches have failed to make the grade.
A recently released EPA report ‘Bathing Water Quality in Ireland – A Report for the Year 2016’ has been found that the overall quality of Irish bathing water remains good with 130 of 140 identified bathing waters meeting the strict EU standards. These strict standards are there to ensure a high level of protection for bathers.
102 of these waters was classified as ‘Excellent’, one more than the previous year, and a further 18 were classed as ‘Good’, five up from 2015. Duncannon, Youghal Front Strand, and Rush South Beach all showed improved performance in 2016 and now all meet the ‘Sufficient’ standard, the minimum mandatory requirement.
But six bathing waters failed to meet this minimum standard and were classified ‘Poor’. These were Merrion Strand, Loughshinny and Portrane in Dublin and Ballyloughane, Tran a bhForbacha and Clifden in Galway.
The EPA report shows that these waters are all vulnerable to pollution events. A ‘Poor’ rating 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 place notices on these beaches to advise against public bathing.
Dr Matt Crowe, Director of the EPA Office of Evidence and Assessment said “All bathers are entitled to feel that they and their loved ones are safe from harm from the water they swim in when they spend a day at the beach. More needs to be done to provide a greater level of protection for bathers at beaches and other bathing areas vulnerable to pollution. It is simply unacceptable to have popular bathing areas classified as being of poor quality.”
Maintaining safe bathing water is becoming a more pressing issue with the recently discovered superbug enzymes on Galway beaches and an EPA report last year on Urban Waste water Treatment finding that 29 towns and cities failed to meet mandatory EU waste water treatment standards and that 43 areas around the country still discharge raw sewage into the sea.
This latest report highlights the need for local authorities to take action and address these issues and making the water a safer place for bathers and marine life alike.