Two of the country’s 135 premier bathing spots have failed to meet basic water cleanliness standards.
The two beaches were Clifden Beach in Galway and White Strand in Miltown Malbay in Clare. Five beaches failed to meet the standards in 2010.
The report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that, overall, the quality of Ireland’s bathing waters remains high, with 98.5% of identified bathing areas meeting the EU mandatory standards. By comparison, 97% of bathing areas met these standards in the 2010 bathing season.
In the case of Clifden Beach, one of the primary reasons for the poor quality of the bathing water was the nearby sewage works discharge. The plant has recently been licensed by the EPA which said it should bring about “significant improvements” in water quality in the near future. In the case of Miltown Malbay the classification resulted from an uncharacteristically poor sample result taken after bad weather.
Some 83% of bathing waters met higher EU guideline standards and are classified as being of “good” status. This is lower than the previous year when 90% of bathing areas met these standards. However, 2011 was the first year of the implementation of transitional arrangements for the assessment of bathing water quality and changes in microbiological parameters. The EPA stressed that this coupled with poorer weather conditions throughout the summer may have contributed to the drop.
Of the 18 local authorities who had designated bathing areas, five achieved “good” status for all of their identified bathing waters. These were Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, Louth, Mayo, Meath and Wicklow County Councils.
Five new bathing areas were designated by local authorities last year, bringing the total number of identified bathing areas across the country to 135.
Commenting on the bathing water quality results, EPA director general Laura Burke said stricter standards were coming into force from 2014.
“The quality of bathing waters in Ireland remains high and shows a sustained improvement in the numbers of bathing areas achieving “sufficient” status over the last few years.”
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