Ireland's Bathing Water Quality Remains Good

Date released: May 09 2006

The quality of Ireland’s bathing waters continues to be of a high standard according to findings released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).   The EPA’s Bathing Water Report 2005 also points to the positive impact of wastewater treatment facilities on bathing water quality.

A total of 131 bathing areas, both seawater and freshwater, were monitored throughout the 2005 bathing season.  They were assessed for compliance with two sets of EU standards: minimum quality standards (EU Mandatory Values) and more stringent quality targets (EU Guide Values).

The key findings from this assessment are that:

  • 126 of the 131 bathing areas (96 per cent) complied with the mandatory EU standards.  128 bathing areas complied in 2004.
  • 119 of the 131 (91 per cent) bathing areas complied with the much stricter EU guideline standards.  115 bathing areas complied in 2004.

All designated bathing areas were compliant with National and EU standards in the following Local Authorities: Donegal (19), Dun-Laoghaire/Rathdown (2), Galway City (2), Louth (4), Mayo (15), Westmeath (3) and Wexford (6).

Five bathing areas out of 131 failed to comply with the mandatory EU standards.  These were Merrion Strand  (Dublin City), Sutton Burrow Beach (Fingal County Council) Na Forbacha and Clifden (Galway County) and Ardmore (Waterford County).  Merrion strand and Na Forbacha failed to meet the standards for both total and faecal coliforms. Ardmore and Clifden failed to meet the standards for faecal coliforms. Sutton, Burrow Beach failed to meet the standards for faecal coliforms and surface active substances.

Mr Gerard O’ Leary, Programme Manager, EPA said “The bathing water quality in some areas has declined in recent years, and now does not meet the minimum standards.  This trend needs to be addressed”.

“However, significant improvement in water quality at some popular beaches near urban areas is evident in recent years due to the provision of wastewater treatment facilities in key locations,” continued Mr O’ Leary.

Two bathing water areas in Galway  (Silver Strand and Salthill) have experienced an improvement in bathing water quality since 2003. A major contributory factor to this improvement was the commissioning of a new wastewater treatment facility at Mutton Island close to Salthill in May 2004.  The plant ended the daily discharge of millions of gallons of raw sewage into Galway Bay and has resulted in an improvement in bathing water quality at the two sites in 2004 and 2005.

The Ringsend treatment plant continues to have a positive impact on the water quality in Dublin bay, with continued good water quality recorded at Dollymount strand.