What is The Current State of Bathing Water Quality in Ireland?

bathing water quality

What is The Current State of Bathing Water Quality in Ireland?

As summer approaches, many people will head to Ireland’s beaches. Understanding the quality of bathing water helps safeguard public health. A recent report on bathing water quality in 2023 has provided key insights into Ireland’s beaches and lakes. 


How is Bathing Water Quality Measured in Ireland? 

Local authorities monitor and manage bathing waters. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assesses bathing water quality information provided by local authorities. Each year, local authorities take bathing water samples before and during the bathing season. In Ireland, the season runs from 1 June to 15 September. Bathing water quality is classified at our beaches and lakes as Excellent, Good, Sufficient or Poor. In 2023, 148 identified bathing waters were monitored. 


Overview of Ireland’s Bathing Water

Recently, Ireland’s EPA released its 2023 report on bathing water quality. In 2023, almost all (97%) of the identified bathing waters in Ireland met or exceeded the required Sufficient standard. In fact, 77% of bathing waters were of Excellent quality. However, five bathing waters were classified as Poor. Any Poor classification means there is a risk of microbiological pollution, potentially causing illness. Local Authority management plans have been introduced to address the sources of pollution at these Poor quality bathing waters. Swimming restrictions for the 2024 season have also been put in place in the following five bathing waters: 

  • Balbriggan, Front Strand Beach, Co. Dublin. 
  • Loughshinny Beach, Co. Dublin. 
  • Sandymount Strand, Co. Dublin.
  • Lady’s Bay, Buncrana, Co. Donegal. 
  • Trá na mBan, An Spidéal, Co. Galway. 


Heavy Rainfall Impacting Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 

There were 45 pollution incidents resulting in bathing water closures in 2023. Urban wastewater was most frequently reported as the likely cause of these incidents. Other reported causes included agricultural runoff. Heavy rainfall can trigger wastewater overflows and runoffs, causing short-term deterioration in water quality. Record rainfall levels in July and storms in August led to more bathing water warnings in 2023 than in previous years. Speaking on the report, Dr Eimear Cotter (Director of the EPA) said:

“While our bathing water quality is generally very good overall, there is a need to build climate resilience into the management of bathing waters to reduce the risk of pollution following heavy rainfall.”  

Screenshot 2024 05 24 172152

Likely causes of bathing water pollution incidents in 2023


Protecting Ireland’s Bathing Waters 

While bathing water quality remains high overall, heavy summer rainfall puts pressure on our beaches and lakes. As a result, you should always check www.beaches.ie and the signage at the beach for information on the latest water quality and swimming restrictions. Measures must be introduced to reduce harmful effluents from reaching our bathing waters. Here at Southern Scientific, we offer effluent testing to analyse wastewater contents. Such testing can help detect contaminants and prevent their entrance into bathing waters across Ireland. 


Test your wastewater with Southern Scientific’s effluent testing today!

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