Summary: The results for 2004 show that the quality of the bathing water in Ireland is good (76% of bathing areas comply with the National limit values). The results show that Irish bathing water quality is among the best in Europe.
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In Ireland the primary legislation governing the quality of bathing waters is set out in the Quality of Bathing Waters Regulations, 1992 (S.I 155 of 1992) and amendments which transposed the EU Directive 76/160/EC concerning the quality of bathing water. The Regulations set more stringent limits for some parameters than in the EU Directive and all parameters specified are used by the EPA in assessing compliance with the Regulations in contrast to the European Commission which use a sub set of parameters in assessing compliance with the Directive.
Results for 2004 show that the quality of the bathing water in Ireland is good with 76% of bathing areas (99 of 131 sites) complying with the National limit values. Assessing compliance in line with the European Commission approach shows that Irish bathing water quality is among the best in Europe with 98% of bathing areas (128 of 131 sites) complying with the minimum mandatory limit values specified in the Directive. 88% of bathing areas (115 of 131 sites) complied with the stricter guide values specified in the Directive. These guide values can be regarded as quality objectives which all bathing sites should endeavour to achieve. Although the overall quality of bathing waters remains very good, there was a 2% reduction in compliance with the National standards in 2004 as compared with 2003. The number of sites complying with both EU mandatory and guide values shows a positive trend, with mandatory compliance up 1% from 97% in 2003 and guide compliance up 3% from 85% in 2003. Compliance peaked in 2000 with 92% of bathing sites complying with the guide values. This had fallen to 85% in 2002 and 2003 but has increased to 88% in 2004.