EPA SPLASH website: making it easier to find out about local bathing water quality

Date released: Jun 11 2010

The EPA today welcomed the publication of the report from the European Environment Agency on the quality of bathing waters in the EU for the 2009 bathing season.

The report, which is based on data compiled and  submitted by the EPA to the European Environment Agency,  confirms that 93% of Ireland’s designated bathing water sites  met the EU  mandatory standards in 2009 and that  82% of the sites met the stricter EU Guide Standard (an increase of four per cent  over the previous season). The report also  highlights that Ireland’s compliance rate was the lowest when compared to other EU countries with bathing sites in the Atlantic.

Commenting on Irish bathing water sites, Dr Mícheál Lehane, EPA Programme Manager said:

“It is important that local authorities inform the general public when pollution events occur or are predicted at bathing water sites so that members of the public can make an informed choice as to where and when to swim. Anyone heading to the beach during the summer can find now out the latest bathing water quality data supplied by local authorities on the EPA SPLASH website.  In addition, people can submit comments on any of the 20,000 designated bathing areas in Europe to the  European Environment Agency’s web site “Eye on the Earth”.

Eight of the nine Irish bathing areas that failed to meet the minimum standards were in coastal areas. These were:  Balbriggan Front Strand, Skerries South Beach, Sutton Burrow Beach (Dublin Fingal); Clifden Beach (Galway); Dunmore Strand Dunmore East (Waterford); Duncannon (Wexford); Killalla Ross Beach (Mayo); and Youghal Main Beach (Cork).

Commenting on the European-wide report, Dr Lehane said:

“The report is an important benchmark for Ireland in comparing how our bathing areas compare with those elsewhere in Europe.  While the majority of Ireland’s bathing sites are meeting the EU mandatory standards, we want to see all 131 designated bathing areas meeting these standards.”

Dr Lehane continued:

“The poor weather conditions experienced during the 2009 summer were a contributory factor at the sites that failed to meet the standards.  However, there are underlying issues at the majority of these sites and local authorities need to take action to ensure that bathing waters failing to comply with the EU minimum standards are improved. Action may include the provision of appropriate waste water treatment facilities and where necessary the upgrading of sewer networks.”
 

ENDS

Further information: Niamh Leahy, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)

Note to Editors:
EU Mandatory Standards: These are the minimum standards that the water quality at bathing areas must achieve over the bathing season.
EU Guide values: These are stricter guideline standards that bathing areas should endeavour to achieve over the bathing season.

The SPLASH website was developed in co-operation with  local authorities, An Taisce, (the body responsible for awarding Blue Flags to Irish bathing areas) and Irish Water Safety.  Bathing water quality data that is uploaded directly to the site by local authorities will be used by the EPA, to assess the overall compliance of a bathing area with EU standards, and by An Taisce, in their assessment of bathing sites for Blue Flag status.