Date released: May 12, 2021
12 May 2020: The EPA has today published the Bathing Water in Ireland report for 2020 which sets out the quality of bathing water at our beaches. Overall, bathing water quality improved across the country in 2020. However, the report highlights that water quality can change quickly in the short term, especially during rainfall events which can wash pollution into our bathing waters. Swimmers should always check www.beaches.ie for the most up to date water quality information for their local bathing site.
Commenting on the report, EPA Director Dr Eimear Cotter said:
“The continued improvement in bathing water quality is welcome. It is also positive to see two new beaches being identified in 2020, and to see improvements at two beaches that had poor water quality previously. Good quality bathing waters are important now more than ever as more people enjoy our natural amenities, and particularly swimming. With many people now swimming outside the bathing season, the EPA is calling for additional water quality monitoring at beaches where there are large numbers of year-round swimmers, and that this information is made available to the public.”
The water quality at some beaches can be impacted when pollution, from wastewater and agriculture, gets washed in following heavy rainfall. Swimmers are encouraged to check www.beaches.ie for the most up to date water quality information. Local authorities and Irish Water must continue to address sources of water pollution which impact some of our beaches to ensure that public health is protected.
In summary the key findings of the Bathing Water in Ireland report for 2020 were:
Throughout this summer water quality information and details of any incidents affecting bathing waters will be displayed on the www.beaches.ie website. The EPA reminds anyone using or swimming at beaches this year to follow the public health advice hse.ie/coronavirus/ and any local information in relation to the COVID 19 pandemic.
The Bathing Waters in Ireland 2020 report, infographic and a map of the quality of Ireland’s Bathing water sites in 2020 are available on the EPA website.
Further information on bathing water and updates on monitoring results during the bathing water season (1st June to 15th September) is available at www.beaches.ie
Further information: Emily Williamson/Aileen Moon, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor
Bathing season: The designated bathing season in Ireland is from 1st June to 15th September.
Identified Bathing Waters: This is the legal term used for those beaches and lakes managed under the Bathing Water Regulations. Local authorities are responsible for identifying Bathing Waters within their area annually. The 148 identified bathing waters are either coastal or inland waters widely used by the public for bathing and are monitored, managed and assessed under the requirements of the 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations.
Classification: Bathing areas are classified in one of four categories namely ‘Excellent’, ‘Good’, ‘Sufficient’ or ‘Poor’. The minimum mandatory requirement is for ‘Sufficient’ quality. Any waters graded as ‘Poor’ require that management measures be put in place to identify and eliminate the sources of pollution.
Assessment: Bathing Waters are classified based on a statistical assessment of monitoring data over a four-year period.
Bathing at sites classified as having ‘Poor’ water quality: The fact that any bathing water has been classified as ‘Poor’ means that there is a risk of microbiological pollution being present which could potentially cause illness such as skin rashes or gastric upset. Under the Bathing Water Regulations, local authorities are required to put in place notifications for the entire bathing season advising the public against bathing. This could include a bathing prohibition if a serious pollution incident occurs.
Pollution incident: A pollution incident is an incident that has the potential to cause the bathing water quality to deteriorate, for example when there is a stormwater overflow from a wastewater treatment plant, or when sampling identifies a pollution risk. A precautionary approach is taken when reporting incidents, meaning that not all incidents result in a deterioration in the bathing water quality. This approach is taken to protect bathers’ health. When a pollution incident occurs, local authorities apply a swimming restriction at the bathing water. The restriction stays in place until water sampling shows that the water quality has returned to normal.
Prior Warning: Prior Warnings (also known as ‘Short-Term Pollution’) are used in a precautionary approach to protect bathers’ health by advising the public of possible short-term pollution events which usually last for only a few days at most. These are used by many local authorities when heavy rainfall is forecast.