12 May 2023: The EPA has published the Bathing Water Quality in Ireland report for 2022 which shows that water quality at the majority of Ireland’s bathing waters meets or exceeds the appropriate standards.
Nearly all of Ireland’s designated bathing sites at beaches and lakes – 97% to be exact – meet or surpass minimum bathing water quality standards, with 79% reaching an ‘excellent’ rating. This is a testament to the successful efforts by local authorities to manage these areas and the significant investments made in urban wastewater infrastructure in recent years.
Two beaches, Portrane’s Brook Beach in Dublin and Trá na bhForbacha in Galway, have shown a remarkable turnaround, moving from a ‘poor’ to an ‘excellent’ rating. This shows that with investment and a strong focus by the local authorities in finding and fixing the issues, water quality will improve.
Despite these improvements, the EPA’s Director of the Office of Evidence and Assessment, Dr Eimear Cotter, urges local authorities to designate more official bathing sites to further protect swimmers’ health:
‘The on-going improvement in our bathing waters is very welcome and shows that good management of our bathing areas can give a high level of health protection for swimmers and other water users. Year-round swimming continues to be popular and the EPA looks forward to the outcome of the work, led by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, which is investigating how to protect bathers’ health year-round. Unfortunately, there were no new bathing waters identified in 2022. The EPA urges local authorities to designate more official bathing sites to protect swimmers’ health, which includes designating the large number of beaches and popular swimming spots that they monitor but which haven’t been formally identified as bathing waters.’
While most of Ireland’s are meeting the required standards, three have unfortunately been flagged as having poor bathing water quality. As a result, visitors are advised against swimming in Balbriggan (Front Strand Beach), Lady’s Bay, Buncrana, and Trá na mBan, An Spidéal.
As the bathing season approaches (June 1st to September 15th), swimmers are encouraged to check the latest water quality information for their local bathing site at www.beaches.ie. The EPA will also be displaying any incidents affecting water quality on this website throughout the summer and on our Twitter account @EPABeaches.
Although the overall bathing water quality has improved, it’s important to note that heavy rainfall can lead to temporary deteriorations due to wastewater overflows or run-off from urban and agricultural lands. This underscores the importance of continuous management efforts and investments in infrastructure to maintain and further improve the bathing water quality in Ireland.
While the majority of Ireland’s bathing sites meet or exceed the appropriate standards, this report highlights the need for continuous effort and improvement.
It serves as a reminder that maintaining and improving water quality is a shared responsibility, involving local authorities, communities, and individuals alike.