Most Irish bathing waters rated excellent by EU standards

Almost three-quarters of Irish bathing waters have been rated "excellent" by European standards, but the country is lagging significantly behind many of our European neighbours.

Most Irish bathing waters rated excellent by EU standards

Almost three-quarters of Irish bathing waters have been rated "excellent" by European standards, but the country is lagging significantly behind many of our European neighbours.

A study of 30 countries by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency ranks Ireland 24th, with 71% of waters considered to be of an excellent standard.

This is much better than the United Kingdom, where 63.2% are ranked excellent, and Poland, where just 28% are of the highest standard, but significantly worse than the likes of Cyprus (99.1%), Malta (98.9%), Austria (97.3%) and Greece (97%).

Under the provisions of the EU's Bathing Water Directive, more than 21,000 bathing waters are monitored in Europe each year.

The standard of waters is reported to the European Environment Agency for assessment.

In Ireland, 145 waters were tested, with 103 of these rated as 'excellent'.

This accounts for 71% of the total number of waters assessed in Ireland.

A further 22, 15.2%, were rated as 'good', and 12 (8.3%) were 'sufficient', with five (3.4%) rated as 'poor' by the study. 2.1% were not classified.

Quality can be impacted by pollution, wastewater treatments, septic tank discharge and polluted streams, as well as dog fouling and the presence of gulls and migratory birds.

"Many of Ireland's bathing waters are known to be markedly affected by weather events, particularly by heavy rainfall," the study states.

"This is most evident in the waters close to urban areas such as greater Dublin and other major cities where the influence of wastewater discharges can be a crucial factor in the assessment of overall quality."

Three of the five bathing waters ranked poor are in the Greater Dublin Area: Merrion Strand, Sandymount Strand and Portrane, the Brook Beach.

Merrion Strand and Sandymount are two of eight Dublin beaches where swimming is currently banned.

The other bathing waters ranked poor are Liliput, Lough Ennel, Co Westmeath and Clifden Beach, Co Galway.

In 2017, seven bathing waters were classified as poor and each of these had restrictions in place for the entire 2018 season.

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