Sampling, analysis and results for bathing water quality
Sampling and analysis of the bathing water quality at our beaches is managed by our local authorities.
Samples are generally taken just below the surface in waters which are at least 1 metre deep, but this can be influenced by tidal conditions. The safety of the person taking the sample is key, especially if they might need to enter the surf zone where breaking waves present a risk.
As soon as analysis results are reported by the local authorities to the EPA the results are made available on beaches.ie – usually within 48 hours of final analysis.
You can find out the latest water quality at beaches.ie, on beach notice boards, or local authority websites.
When are samples taken?
Bathing waters at our beaches are sampled each year from the end of May until mid-September.
The official bathing season running from 1st June to 15th September.
Beaches monitored and managed under the Bathing Water Quality Regulation are required to be sampled monthly, as a minimum, during the bathing season.
However many local authorities sample fortnightly and some even weekly. Sampling at other monitored beaches is generally on a monthly basis during the summer months.
What are water samples tested for?
Water samples from our beaches are currently tested for two common faecal bacteria: E.coli and Intestinal Enterococci
These organisms live in the gut of all warm blooded animals including humans, livestock, dogs, birds and are present in very large numbers in faeces.
While they can cause illness on their own they are used as indicators of the possible presence of other more harmful organisms such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Viruses, or parasites such as Cryptosporidium.
In freshwaters there is a better correlation with bather health for E.coli, while in coastal waters Intestinal Enterococci are more closely linked to health risks.