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13th May 2022

Only two of Ireland’s swimming spots are considered “poor” quality

Ellen Fitzpatrick

They have seen major improvements.

There are only two swimming spots in Ireland that have been classified as having “poor” water quality.

In its annual report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the number of poor swimming areas in the country has reduced over the last two years.

Continuing to improve, Ireland saw 97% of its beaches and lakes meeting or exceeding the minimum standard.

The water quality at 115 of these sites, which is 78% of them, was “excellent”, up from 111 in 2020.

The EPA has said that these improvements are a direct result of enhanced management of bathing waters and investments in the treatment of urban waste water.

They have warned that there are issues that still need to be addressed in order to protect and improve Irish waters, as they are still being impacted by agriculture, urban waste water and fouling from dogs on beaches.

The two spots that are deemed “poor” quality in Ireland, which is down from four in 2020, are Balbriggan’s Front Strand Beach in Co Dublin and Lady’s Bay in Buncrana, Co Donegal.

According to the EPA, Balbriggan Beach is impacted by sewage discharges and misconnections, animal faeces and contaminated surface streams flowing through the town.

Lady’s Bay is impacted by the Buncrana waste water treatment plant as well as stormwater overflows, and surface run-off which are worsened by heavy rainfall.

Local authority management plans have been put in place to fix these issues and sort out the pollution at both beaches.

“During 2020 and 2021, the bathing water quality improved significantly due to actions taken by farmers in the surrounding area,” the EPA said.

“This was driven by evidence and science generated by Westmeath County Council, the Local Authority Waters Programme and the Agricultural Sustainability, Support and Advisory Programme working together.”