97% of Irish Bathing Waters Meet EU Mandatory Standards

Date released: Apr 18 2011

The Minister for the Environment, Communities & Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D., today launched the EPA report The Quality of Bathing Water in Ireland – An Overview for the Year 2010.

Report findings show that the quality of Ireland’s bathing waters remains high, with 97% of designated bathing areas meeting the EU mandatory standards, and classed as being of ‘sufficient’ water quality status.   In addition, 90% of bathing waters meet higher guideline standards and are classified as ‘good’ status.  This is an 8% increase compared to the previous bathing season.

Commenting on the report, Dr. Mary Kelly, EPA Director General, said:

“There has been an overall improvement in bathing water quality in Ireland in the 2010 season. While some of this is attributable to the dry summer of 2010, the EPA is confident that measures taken to implement the Water Framework Directive – including licensing of Urban Waste Water Treatment Plants by the EPA – are playing their part in making those improvements.

However, stricter standards for bathing water will be introduced under legislation, which means that greater effort will be needed to ensure that our bathing waters are clean, and fit for the people of Ireland to swim in.”

Report Findings
A total of 131 designated bathing areas, comprising 122 seawater and 9 freshwater, were monitored throughout the 2010 bathing season. The results of samples analysed were assessed for compliance with two sets of EU standards:

  • the minimum EU mandatory values and
  • the stricter EU guide values.

The bathing areas are classified as follows:

  • Compliant with guide and mandatory values achieves good water quality status.
  • Compliant with mandatory values only achieves sufficient water quality status.
  • Non compliant with mandatory values results in poor water quality status.

The key findings from this assessment show:

  • 127 of the 131 designated bathing areas (97%) complied with the mandatory standards and thus achieved sufficient water quality status. 
  • 118 of the 131 (90%) bathing areas complied with the much stricter EU guideline standards and thus achieved good water status. 
  • 4 of the 131 bathing areas (3%) failed to comply with the minimum mandatory standards and were thus classified as poor quality status. These bathing areas were: Sutton Burrow Beach (Dublin Fingal); Clifden Beach (Galway); Lilliput, Lough Ennel (Westmeath) and Ballyallia (Clare).

Dr. Kelly said:

“The results of EPA monitoring of bathing water can be found on the Splash website – www.bathingwater.ie- which also gives information on the compliance history of each bathing area, details of blue flag status, current weather and tidal information, along with aerial photography.

We hope that all visitors to Irish beaches can enjoy good quality bathing water and clean modern facilities, knowing that their health and the environment are protected.”

The summary report The Quality of Bathing Water in Ireland – An Overview for the Year 2010 along with a map of the quality of Ireland’s bathing water sites, are now available on the EPA website.

In addition, all information relating to the 2010 bathing season is now available on the EPA’s bathing water quality website SPLASH.  Throughout this summer, up-to-date bathing water quality information, as provided by the local authorities, will be displayed on SPLASH. In addition, information in relation to bathing safety, Blue Flag status and weather will also be provided here.


Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)

Note to Editors:

EU Mandatory Standards: These are the minimum standards that the water quality at bathing areas must achieve over the bathing season.
EU Guide values: These are stricter guideline standards that bathing areas should endeavour to achieve over the bathing season.

The parameter Faecal streptococci is not one of the five parameters used for EU compliance, however, compliance with the guide value for this parameter is considered for Blue Flag Awards.