Three of five lowest-rated bathing beaches in Ireland are in Dublin

Three out of five of the lowest-rated water quality beaches in Ireland are in Dublin, a new report has found.

The Bathing Water Quality 2018 report found that the Dublin beaches which ranked a ‘poor’ standard in bathing quality are Merrion Strand, Sandymount Strand and the Brook Beach in Portrane in Dublin.

Galway and Westmeath also saw beaches with bathing water of low standards, with Clifden Beach in Galway and Liliput in Lough Ennell rated ‘poor’.

Merrion Strand has been found to have poor water quality for the last four years. The report found that water quality was impacted at both Merrion Strand and Sandymount Strand as they have streams flowing on to them.

Some of these streams have been found to contain “leaks spills and overflows from wastewater collection systems, and runoff from roads” the report published today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found.

The Brook Beach in Portrane has been classified as ‘poor’ for the last three years. The main cause of pollution into the water is believed to be “septic tank discharges, birds, dog fouling and leaks, spills and overflows from sewers”.

A ‘poor’ rating means that the bathing water has not met minimum standards and bathing restrictions should be put in place at the beach as well as measures enacted by local authorities to improve the quality.

In Galway, Clifden beach has been found to have a poor bathing quality water for the last three years due to a public sewer network and storm water overflow at the Clifden wastewater treatment plant.

“The new waste water treatment plant is not operating as well as we hoped to see,” said Mr Fanning.

Lilliput in Lough Ennell, county Westmeath, “deteriorated” from a ‘good’ ranking in 2017 to a ‘poor’ in 2018.

The beach was found to have “very high levels of pollution” and the main causes are believed to be “agriculture, and potentially birds and discharges from septic tanks”, according to the report.

In 2018, dry and sunny weather contributed to good quality bathing water, as 94pc of Ireland’s bathing waters were deemed to be of a ‘sufficient’ standard.

Meanwhile, 71pc, or 103, were of ‘excellent’ standard.  This means that the bathing water is “cleanest, of the highest standard”, according to the report.

Two beaches were upgraded from a poor standard to a sufficient standard from 2017. These were Loughshinny Beach and South Beach in Rush.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Andy Fanning, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment, said that the agency needs to see work intensify in some areas.

“Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City Council are carrying out surveys into the bathing waters, but from an EPA perspective, we need to see the work really intensifying,” he said.

“There has been a number of years where these beaches have failed.

“We’re delighted to see those comebacks and it shows you can make improvements where you do this work,” Mr Fanning added.

The report also found that urban wastewater, such as run off rain water and domestic waste water, is the most common source of pollution in bathing water. It was the cause of 55pc of pollution incidents, which were reported to the EPA. 

The Bathing Water Quality in Ireland report is published annually by the EPA and outlines bathing water quality in recreational public spaces.

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