Quality of Irish bathing areas remains good

Date released: May 07 2008

The quality of Ireland’s bathing waters remains good, with 97% of designated bathing sites meeting the EU Mandatory standards.  This is according to findings released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their report entitled The Quality of Bathing Water in Ireland – A Report for the Year 2007.   Whilst compliance with the minimum EU Mandatory Standards remained the same as in 2006, there was, however, a decrease in the number of bathing areas complying with the stricter EU Guide values.  This was due, in general, to the higher than usual rainfall that occurred during the 2007 bathing season, which would have the effect of, among other things, causing increased discharges that would impact on bathing areas.

Report Findings
A total of 131 designated bathing areas, comprising 122 seawater and 9 freshwater, were monitored throughout the 2007 bathing season. The results of samples analysed 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 show:

  • 127 of the 131 bathing areas (97 per cent) complied with the mandatory standards, which is the same as 2006.
  • 105 of the 131 (80 per cent) bathing areas complied with the much stricter EU guideline standards.  118 sites complied with these standards in 2006.

The bathing areas that failed to comply with the minimum EU mandatory standard were: Balbriggan (Dublin Fingal); Clifden (Galway); Youghal (Cork) and Na Forbacha (Galway). Balbriggan failed to meet the EU mandatory standard for both total and faecal coliforms while Clifden, Youghal and Na Forbacha failed to meet the standard for faecal coliforms. Clifden has failed to meet the mandatory standards for three of the past five years, while Balbriggan has failed to meet the mandatory standard for four of the past five years.

Dr. Michéal Lehane, Programme Manager, EPA said:

“While the overall level of bathing water quality remains good, the EPA is concerned that a small number of bathing areas are consistently failing to meet the minimum mandatory standards. Adequate measures including the provision of appropriate waste water treatment facilities at these bathing areas are required if they are to comply with current EU standards.  These are set to become more stringent with the implementation of the new bathing water directive in the coming years”.

All of the designated bathing areas within the following six local authority areas complied fully with the EU guide and mandatory standards: Donegal County Council, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, Galway City Council, Kerry County Council, Mayo County Council and Westmeath County Council.

In the context of the new Bathing Water Regulations 2008 (SI No. 79 of 2008), the EPA will continue to encourage local authorities to identify additional bathing areas in the coming years.

Download The Quality of Bathing Water in Ireland – A Report for the Year 2007, and download the map of the quality of Ireland’s bathing water, from the EPA website.