Six popular bathing spots have failed to meet minimum EU standards, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual report which is released today.
Despite this, the EPA’s Bathing Water Quality in Ireland report for 2016 found 130 of the country’s 140 bathing waters do meet minimum EU standards, with almost three quarters classed as “excellent” and further 18 were classed as “good”.
The number of waters classed as excellent and good are up one and five respectively compared to 2015.
However, six locations — Loughshinny, Merrion Strand, and Portrane, in Dublin, and Ballyloughane, Clifden, and Trá na bhForbacha in Galway — failed to meet EU standards.
They were classified as poor which the EPA says means “that there is a risk of periodic microbiological pollution which could potentially cause illness such as skin rashes or gastric upset”.
Matt Crowe, director of the EPA’s office of evidence and assessment, said it “is simply unacceptable to have popular bathing areas classified as being of poor quality”.
He said: “All bathers are entitled to feel that they and their loved ones are safe from harm from the water they swim in when they spend a day at the beach.
“More needs to be done to provide a greater level of protection for bathers at beaches and other bathing areas vulnerable to pollution.”
Ten beach or bathing areas were classified as being of “sufficient water quality, and the EPA warned they “remain at risk of episodic pollution events”.
They are The Warren/Creggane Strand in West Cork, Garryvoe and Youghal Front Strand beaches in east Cork, Lady’s Bay in Donegal, Balbriggan, Sandymount Strand, and Rush South Beach in Dublin, Trá na mBan in Galway, Bunmahon Beach in Waterford, and Duncannon in Wexford.
Fifteen areas, six from Cork including Coolmaine, Fountainstown, Youghal Claycastle and Youghal Front Strand, as well as locations in Dublin, Galway, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow saw improvements.
Water quality in seven areas — Creggane Strand, Lisfannon, Donegal, Killiney, Donabate and Portrane in Dublin, Clifden and Trá na bhForbacha, and Mullaghmore, Sligo — deteriorated in 2016 compared to 2015.
Ballyloughane, Merrion Strand, and Loughshinny, which were classified as poor last year were also rated poor in 2015.
The EPA’s senior scientific officer Peter Webster said the public can access up-to-date information about bathing water quality online.
“Throughout the season, current water quality information and details of any incidents affecting bathing waters will be displayed on the national bathing water website, splash.epa.ie.
“Bathers visiting these waters are advised to check the website and their local beach notice boards for information on current water quality. A Twitter notification service, @EPABathingWater, is also available to provide incident alerts and information of interest to bathers,” he said.
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