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Most Designated Bathing Water Locations Meet Minimum Standards - EPA Report

12th May 2023
The Forty Foot bathing place on Dublin Bay, one of Ireland's most popular sea swimming spots
The Forty Foot bathing place on Dublin Bay, one of Ireland's most popular sea swimming spots Credit: Afloat

Most of Ireland’s tested bathing water locations meet or exceed minimum standards, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says.

The EPA Bathing Water Quality in Ireland report for 2022 shows that water quality at the majority of Ireland’s bathing waters “meets or exceeds the appropriate standards”.

It says 79% of bathing sites have “excellent” water quality, while 97% meet the minimum standard.

In particular, the EPA highlights two beaches that have improved from “poor” to “excellent” quality over recent years - Portrane, the Brook Beach in Dublin, and Trá na bhForbacha, Na Forbacha in Galway.

“This shows that with investment and a strong focus by the local authorities in finding and fixing the issues, water quality will improve,” it says.

The EPA says the number of beaches with poor bathing water quality increased to three, compared with two in 2021, and these three will have a swimming restriction for the 2023 season.

They are Balbriggan (Front Strand Beach), Lady’s Bay, Buncrana and Trá na mBan, An Spidéal; due to different issues, including wastewater discharges, run-off from urban and agricultural lands as well as dog and other animal fouling, it says.

Dr Eimear Cotter, director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment, welcomed the ongoing improvement.

Currently, open water swimmers are pushing for year-round testing rather than the designated season from June 1st to September 15th when local authorities carry out testing.

Cotter acknowledged that year-round swimming “continues to be popular”.

She said the EPA “looks forward to the outcome of the work, led by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, which is investigating how to protect bathers' health year-round”.

“Unfortunately, there were no new bathing waters identified in 2022, she added.

“The EPA urges local authorities to designate more official bathing sites to protect swimmers’ health, which includes designating the large number of beaches and popular swimming spots that they monitor but which haven’t been formally identified as bathing waters,” she said.

Throughout this summer, water quality information and details of any incidents affecting bathing waters will be displayed on the website.

The Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 2022 report, infographic and a map of the quality of Ireland’s Bathing water sites in 2022 are available on

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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