Learn More

About Splash

Splash (splash.epa.ie) is the national bathing water information website, developed by the EPA, for 137 identified bathing waters around Ireland. Information on Splash is in line with the requirements of the 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations and can be navigated to and is presented textually and using interactive maps. 

Throughout the bathing season, you can:

  • find out the latest bathing water quality monitoring results & latest water quality status of indivdual bathing water samples
  • check out if there are any current bathing water warnings or incident notifications
  • find out the annual classification of the bathing water (Excellent, Good, Sufficient or Poor) and the summary assessment of bathing water quality performance over recent bathing seasons
  • view the beach description, photograph and historical monitoring results from 2012 season onwards
  • read and download the latest bathing water profile
  • check out the weather and use useful links to see if a bathing water has a blue flag, what the lifeguard cover is and find tide information etc.

You can find out which bathing waters were identified for the current year and how you can get involved in proposing new bathing waters in your area. You can also learn more about bathing water legislation & requirements and check out frequently asked questions on bathing waters.

Home page

The latest bathing water quality status for identified bathing waters are presented nationally on an interactive map where the bathing water sampling locations are colour coded in line with latest water quality status:

  • Excellent status - blue swimmer symbol
  • Good status – green swimmer symbol
  • Sufficient status – yellow swimmer symbol
  • Poor status – orange swimmer symbol

Any current bathing warnings & notifications at bathing waters are listed and presented nationally on the interactive map with an alert symbol. Any bathing water reported as having bathing restrictions in place for the entire season is also listed.

A Twitter feed to @EPABathingWater is availble on the Home page to view latest tweets on bathing water. Follow us today!

You can find out more information about a bathing water by selecting the sampling location on the map, by selecting a bathing water name listed or selecting the bathing water from the dropdown local authority and bathing water selection boxes. To ensure the most up-to-date information is displayed in Splash refresh your screen periodically.

Bathing Water Level page

You can navigate to detailed information on a bathing water from the Home page by selecting a bathing water sampling location on the interactive map, by selecting a bathing water from the dropdown local authority & bathing water selection boxes or by choosing a bathing water name listed.

At the Bathing Water level page, you can view on the interactive map the extent of the bathing water and sampling location displaying latest water quality status (Excellent - blue, Good – green, Sufficient – yellow or Poor – orange) or a red alert of a current bathing water warning/incident notification with an orthophotograph in the background.

You can check out for your selected bathing water:

  • the latest water quality results and latest water quality status; 
  • historical monitoring results from 2012 season onwards,
  • annual classification status of the bathing water for the previous four seasons,
  • a summary assessment of water quality performance over recent seasons and
  • bathing season update.

You can investigate if there are any current bathing warnings and notifications for the bathing water and view the bathing restriction waring or notice (if issued by the local authority) by clicking on the notice icon if available.

You can also view, print or download the bathing water profile by selecting the bathing water name in the profile area of the page. You can view a description and photograph of the beach which includes symbols of available beach activities/facilities and check out the current weather. 

You can use the useful links provided to check if a bathing water has a blue flag, what the lifeguard cover is, find tide information, report missing/damaged life buoys, find out about local Coastcare group etc.

To ensure the most up-to-date information is displayed in Splash refresh your screen periodically by selecting F5 from your computer keyboard. From the bathing water level page, you can navigate to another bathing water by selecting a bathing water from the dropdown local authority & bathing water selection boxes or zooming out on the interactive map & selecting another bathing location on the map.

Bathing Waters page

The bathing waters identified by local authorities for the current year are listed along with their latest bathing water profiles.

You can:

  • order the identified bathing water information listed by selecting the arrow symbol next to bathing water name, local authority name, type, category, bathing season restrictions or classification (previous season);
  • select the profile document icon to view, print or download your chosen bathing water profile;
  • find out more information about a bathing water by selecting the tick icon beside the bathing water name.

Public Participation page

You can contact your local authority to find out how you can get involved in proposing new bathing waters in your area for monitoring, management and assessment under the 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations.

An explanation of public participation in the identifying of new bathing waters is provided with a link to the Contacts & Links page with local authority contact details. 

Learn More page

You can learn more about the Splash website, bathing water legislation & requirements and the processes for the reporting of bathing water information.

You can also learn more about aspects of bathing water such as pollution incidents & notifications, monitoring, profiles and the assessment of water quality.

FAQs page

You can review the answers to frequently asked questions to learn more about bathing waters and help answer questions you may have on bathing waters such as ‘Should I swim after heavy rain?’, ‘What are E. coli and Intestinal Enterococci?’, ‘What do bathing water sample results mean?’ etc.

Contact and Links page

Local authority contact details are provided if you have any queries on the bathing water monitoring results and information provided in Splash and if you wish to find out how to participate in the identifying of new bathing waters.

If you wish to search for additional information a central list of useful links in relation to bathing waters is provided.

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Bathing Water Monitoring

Local authorities are responsible for sampling and analysis of bathing waters. Bathing waters are sampled on a regular basis from the end of May to mid-September to assess the microbiological quality of the water and to minimise any public health risk. The minimum number of samples is five over the bathing season, one during the preseason sampling period (22 – 31 May) and four samples distributed evenly throughout the bathing season (1 June - 15 September). Most local authorities take more than five samples, weekly in some cases.

Local authorities are required to provide to the EPA, by 24 March each year, the details of their planned sampling programme (a monitoring calendar for each identified bathing water). The monitoring calendar sets fixed dates for the collection and analysis of samples. Sampling is required to be undertaken within 4 days of the planned date. Additional samples may be taken by the local authorities such as to confirm water quality after heavy rain or other events.

Samples are analysed for two types of faecal bacteria E. coli (Escherichia coli) and Intestinal Enterococci which have been shown to be closely linked to bather health. These two groups of organisations are used as “indicator” organisms where their presence in large numbers in bathing waters is a warning of a possible health risk from other harmful bacteria and viruses which might be present. It can take only a relatively small amout of faecal matter, whether from human or animal origin, to contaminate bathing waters; however, the analystical methods used can detect just a few bacteria in 100ml of water.

Throughout the bathing season, local authorities post bathing water results on beach notice boards and report results to the EPA via the EPA Monitoring Data System on EDEN (Environmental Data Exchange Network) for display on Splash. There is always a short time delay between sampling and the availability of results. It can take up to 72 hours for results to be available once samples have been received by the laboratory due to the time it takes to culture the relevant bacteria.

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Pollution Incidents and Notifications

Pollution of water takes many forms, but one of the most prevalent is faecal contamination from sewage and animals. Faecal contamination impacts on water quality, making the bathing water unsafe for recreational activities such as swimming. The main sources of pollution are: 

  • wastewater (sewage) discharges, emergency discharges from storm water outfalls and drainage from domestic wastewater systems (septic tanks);
  • urban run-off from hard surfaces such as pavements, road gutters, and from streams which can run through built-up areas into which there can often be unauthorised discharges such as misconnections from housing estates;
  • agricultural run-off from fields where animal manures have been spread, as a result of animal access to streams, or as a direct result of deposition of animal faeces in waters or onto beaches (e.g. from dogs or horses).

Pollution can occur at any time but most of these impacts are more prevalent after heavy rainfall when bacteria present in faecal matter can be washed into streams and watercourses that may drain into the sea or where the hydraulic capacity of sewers is exceeded causing storm outfalls to operate to prevent flooding. The impacts on bathing water quality are generally very short-lived lasting 1-2 days.

In the event of a pollution incident including ‘potential’ short term pollution event, local authorities are required to implement management measures such as warnings, bathing restrictions, identifying & stopping the pollution etc. The measures are intended to prevent bathers’ exposure to the pollution, and to prevent, reduce or eliminate the causes of pollution. Local authorities are required to make information on pollution incidents available at the bathing water.

When a pollution incident occurs, or when sampling identifies a pollution risk which could have an impact on bather health, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is firstly contacted by the local authority for advice and their recommendation on any potential bathing restriction. Local authorities notify all incidents to the EPA via the EPA Compliance & Risk Information System (CRIS) on EDEN (Environmental Data Exchange Network) in as near to real-time as possible but no later than 11am next day following the commencement of the incident.

The public is notified of bathing water incidents by means of beach signage and notices on local authority websites but notification can also include media broadcasts. Followers of @EPABathingWater will receive tweets of the start and end of incidents and all current incidents notified to the EPA are reported on Splash.

Incident details are regularly updated on the EPA notification system (CRIS) and their impacts are asssessed by both the EPA Bathing Water Unit and the EPA Office of Environmental Enforcement. At the end of the season the EPA undertakes a review of water quality information and measures taken in response to the incidents. The EPA reports its assessment, details of any bathing restrictions and management measures taken in respect of incidents to the European Commission as part of the December reporting requirement.

If you notice pollution at your beach notify your relevant local authority who will investigate the situation and undertake the appropriate measures.

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Assessment of Water Quality

Local authorities monitor the concentrations of two microbiological parameters Escherichia coli (known as E. coli) and Intestinal Enterococci in their bathing waters. In saline/coastal waters the more resistant intestinal enterococci have shown a strong correlation with gastro-intestinal illness whereas in freshwater (lakes) E.coli is considered a better indicator.

Annual Assessment of Bathing Waters

From 2014 the EPA assesses annual bathing water quality status using the concentration values of E. coli and Intestinal Enterococci for a four year period (generally) to determine compliance against the stricter criteria (95 & 90 percentile thresholds) for each parameter as defined in the 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations. Different criteria apply for coastal/transitional waters (saline) and inland waters (freshwaters). The overall water quality status of a bathing water is determined by the poorer status of the two parameters.

The annual water quality of bathing waters are assessed and classified as 'Excellent', 'Good', 'Sufficient' or 'Poor'. In the case of Excellent water quality the risk of contracting gastro-intestinal illness is predicted to be ca. 3%, in Good waters ca. 5%, in Sufficient waters 8-9% and in Poor waters ca. >10%.

The annual water quality status is now determined from results covering a four year period rather than just the past season’s results using statistical methods rather than simple percentage compliance. This approach is more robust, as it averages out the impacts of seasonal variations and takes account of the spread of results. A new bathing water identified for monitoring and assessment under 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations will remain classed as ‘New’ until 16 samples are available to allow assessment of its water quality classification.

The annual bathing water classifications for four previous seasons are provided in Splash along with current EC classification symbol. The EPA reports the monitoring results and the determined classifications for the identified bathing waters to the European Commission by 31 December each year.

Assessment of Bathing Water Sample during Season

The Splash website displays the results of individual bathing water samples reported by local authorities throughout the bathing season. From 2014 the likely water quality status of each individual sample is assessed as either 'Excellent', 'Good', 'Sufficient' or 'Poor'. In the case of 'Excellent' water quality the risk of contracting gastro-intestinal illness is predicted to be ca. 3%, in Good waters ca. 5%, in Sufficient waters 8-9% and in Poor waters ca. >10%.

The likely status assessment of individual samples uses a precautionary approach, whereby the 95 percentile thresholds for 'Excellent' and 'Good' (specified in 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations) are treated as absolute values. Whereas the values for ‘Sufficient’ and ‘Poor’ were determined by the EPA from WHO criteria and assessment of results over last few years (as unable to determine likely status for an individual sample using the 90 percentile threshold for Sufficient defined in 2008 Regulations). For a bathing water sample using this precautionary approach, the likely water quality status of each parameter is determined and the overall status of a bathing water sample is presented by the poorer status of the two parameters.

Notice boards at the beaches show the monitoring results and display smiley symbols to interpret their assessment against the standards, e.g. a happy smiley means the water quality is good.

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Bathing Water Profiles

A bathing water profile has been prepared by the local authorities for each identified bathing water. It is intended to provide useful information about the bathing water for the public. The profile provides a description of the bathing water and identifies the causes of pollution that may affect the quality of the bathing water & impair bather’s health. Where risk of pollution is identified, the profile describes the management measures taken and/or proposed to be taken for its elimination. The bathing water profile:

  • describes the bathing water & its surrounding area
  • provides information about rivers and streams feeding into the bathing water
  • identifies potential pollution sources and risks to water quality
  • identifies if bathing water is subject to short term pollution
  • provides the management measures taken and/or proposed to be taken to eliminate pollution and improve water quality.

Local authorities are required to prepare profiles of any newly identified bathing waters and undertake reviews or updates of profiles for existing bathing waters every 2 – 4 years depending on the bathing water classification. Local authorities submit new or updated bathing water profiles to the EPA via the Bathing Water Information System on EDEN (Environmental Data Exchange Network) by 24 March each year. The EPA publishes the latest profiles on Splash from which the public can view, print or download the profiles.

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Technical & Accessibility Information

Technical

The Splash website is optimized for 1280x720 resolution (with this screen resolution the page fits in the full screen) and works best with Internet Explorer 9 or higher, Firefox version 3.6 or higher, Google Chrome 11 or higher and Safari 5 or higher. Where Splash is viewed on laptops/PCs of lower resolutions then the user will be unable to view the full page and an option is to zoom out by reducing the zoom rate to 75-80% so the page will fit under 1024x768 screens. In laptops and PCs, this can easily be done by holding Ctrl key + mouse scroll wheel, or in the configuration of the web browser change the Zoom property (this will vary depending on the web browser).

An automatic updating process runs every hour from 7am to 7pm seven days a week to allow any new or updated information reported by the local authorities to be made available on the Splash website in a timely manner. To ensure the most up-to-date information is displayed in Splash refresh your screen periodically.

Accessibility

The non GIS map elements of the Splash website have taken into account accessibility level (WA1). The interactive map-based information is currently not accessible. The Splash website uses cascading style sheets for visual layout.  This ensures that content is perfectly linearised and improves performance on a wide range of browsers and other user agents.  It is also screen reader friendly which makes the site accessible to more of our citizens. Where possible, new content published is in accessible HTML.

Alternative access

  • Bathing water profile documents can be viewed and downloaded in PDF format from Splash. If you require a profile in an accessible version please contact the EPA via email bathingwater@epa.ie or telephone 053 9160600.
  • The interactive map-based information displayed on Splash is not accessible If you require assistance in viewing the maps section of the Splash website please email gis@edenireland.ie  or telephone 053 9160600.
  • Splash website – if you have any queries on the Splash website (functionality, design etc) please contact the EPA via email bathingwater@epa.ie or telephone 053 9160600.
  • Some relevant data may be available in the publications and documents published by the EPA and can be obtained on-line or from our publications office at: Environmental Protection Agency, PO Box 3000, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co Wexford. Telephone: (053) 916 0600 E-mail: publications@epa.ie 

Accessibility Officer

The EPA has appointed an Accessibility Officer in accordance with section 26(2) of the Disability Act 2005. The Accessibility officer is responsible for providing or arranging for, and coordinating assistance and guidance, to persons with disabilities accessing services provided by the EPA. The Accessibility officer can be contacted as follows: Ms. Geraldine Ruane, PO Box 3000, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co Wexford. Telephone: (053) 916 0633 Fax Numbers: (053) 916 0699 Email: g.ruane@epa.ie.

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Privacy Policy

This statement relates to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) privacy practices in connection with its website(s). The EPA is not responsible for the content or privacy practices of other websites that are/may be linked to this site. Any external links to other websites are clearly identifiable as such.

General statement

The EPA fully respects your right to privacy, and will not collect any personal data about you through this website that you do not give voluntarily. Any personal data that you volunteer to the EPA will be treated with the highest standards of security and confidentiality, strictly in accordance with the Data Protection Acts, 1988 & 2003.

Collection and use of personal information

The EPA does not collect any personal data about you on this website, apart from information which you volunteer (for example by e-mailing us). Any information which you provide in this way is not made available to any third parties, and is used by the EPA only for the purpose for which you provided it.

Collection and use of technical information 

Cookies are used to collect non-personal information about how visitors use the website. These cookies are used as part of Google Analytics, a web analytics service that enables the EPA to track how visitors use the Splash website. The goal of this application is to help towards improving the quality of the website.  Google Analytics uses first-party cookies. 

Technical details in connection with visits to this website are logged for statistical purposes. No information is collected that could be used by us to identify website visitors. The EPA will make no attempt to identify individual visitors, or to associate the technical details with any individual. You should note that technical details, which we cannot associate with any identifiable individual, do not constitute "personal data" for the purposes of the Data Protection Acts, 1988 & 2003.

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Disclaimer

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website, it is not possible to guarantee that it is accurate in all cases.  Information compiled by third parties is not necessarily correct, and is provided as is. The fact that it is included in this site does not mean that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accepts or agrees with it. Electronic data may also be modified or corrupted. Accordingly, whenever accuracy is important, it is recommended that you obtain a copy of the original documentation on which the information is based and verify its accuracy. 

The Splash website has been provided to enable the public to find out information on identified bathing waters in Ireland and is intended as a tool for the personal investigation of bathing water information. Information portrayed on the website has been provided by a number of sources

  • 18 Local Authorities
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Ordnance Survey Ireland (maps).

The EPA does not guarantee the accuracy of data presented on this viewer and is not responsible for incorrect interpretation. If accuracy is important, it is recommended that you obtain an original copy on which the information is based and verify its accuracy.

Data Usage Policy

Data presented on Splash is provided "as is" without warranty of accuracy, timeliness or completeness. The burden of determining accuracy, completeness, timeliness and fitness or appropriateness for use rests solely with the user. The EPA makes no warranties, express or implied, as to the use of the data. There are no implied warranties or warranties of fitness for a particular purpose or merchantability, and the EPA shall have no liability for actual or consequential losses arising from use of the data. The user acknowledges and accepts the limitations of the data, including the fact that the data is dynamic and is in constant state of maintenance, correction and upgrade.

Local Authorities

18 local authorities provide the bathing water results and information presented in Splash including the identified bathing water information, latest bathing water monitoring results, information on any current bathing water incident notifications, bathing warnings/notices, bathing water profiles, bathing water extents & monitoring locations, bathing season information, beach photographs, contact information etc. Please contact the relevant local authority if you have any queries on this bathing water information and results.

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA has put in place the systems and framework to facilitate the streamlined and timely provision of the bathing water information and results from the local authorities to the Agency and for public dissemination on Splash. The EPA has developed Splash the national bathing water information website including preparation of the Frequently Asked Questions and Learn More information. The EPA provides on Splash the water quality assessment of the individual bathing water sample results during the bathing season. The EPA also provides the overall water quality status of bathing waters based on all the sample analysis results taken for the bathing season and for the pre-season sampling period (as specified in relevant monitoring calendar). The overall water quality status of bathing waters is provided for the previous four bathing seasons.

Met Éireann - Weather Information

Splash displays current weather conditions and three day weather forecast information provided by Met Éireann, the national meteorological service in Ireland. For further information on weather informaton check out www.met.ie website.

Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi)

Some of the mapping images on this website are based on Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) data. You are allowed to use such mapping images subject to the following terms and conditions. OSi data is Copyright © Ordnance Survey Ireland and Government of Ireland protected by the Copyright Act 1963, Copyright (Amendment) Act 1987, Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 and EU Copyright and Database Directives. Other than as expressly set out in these terms and conditions you are not authorised to reproduce any OSi Data, whether the reproduction is direct or through a fresh drawing or from a map or document based on OSi material, whatever the means of reproduction. Any infringement of Ordnance Survey Ireland and Government of Ireland Copyright may lead to prosecution and/ or civil proceedings. You are authorised to make a single printed copy of each OSi mapping image as displayed on your browser for personal, non-commercial use. Educational establishments may print sufficient copies of each map image as displayed on your browser to provide each pupil/ student and teacher with an individual copy. You must not use the prints for financial gain. All hard copies produced from OSi data must carry the following acknowledgement:

  • Based on Ordnance Survey Ireland data and reproduced under Ordnance Survey Ireland Internet Publication Licence 8068. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Ordnance Survey Ireland and Government of Ireland copyright.
  • Apart from such use, you are not authorised to download OSi images from this website or to provide hyperlinks from other websites to OSi map images in this website. Any infringement of Ordnance Survey Ireland and Government of Ireland Copyright may lead to prosecution and/ or civil proceedings.
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Poor Bathing Waters

Bathing waters are classified as ‘Poor ‘when their annual water quality assessments (monitoring results from latest and three previous seasons) do not achieve at least ‘Sufficient’ status. The classification of bathing waters as being of ‘Poor’ water quality shows that from time to time these waters may be subject to more frequent, or more significant pollution, than waters of better quality. Poor bathing waters may be affected by diffuse pollution from streams as a result of heavy rainfall or from the impacts of sewage outfalls.

The 2014 assessment of identified bathing waters classified seven bathing waters as having ‘Poor’ water quality: Ardmore (Waterford City & County), Ballyloughane (Galway City Council), Clifden (Galway County Council), Duncannon (Wexford County Council), Lilliput Lough Ennel (Westmeath County Council), Rush South Beach (Dublin Fingal) and Youghal Front Strand (Cork County Council). The problems affecting these poor bathing waters have been linked to impacts of wastewater discharges.

There are a number of management measures a local authority is required to undertake from the bathing season following the Poor classification (as required in the 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations):

  • Issue a bathing prohibition or advice against bathing to prevent the exposure of bathers to pollution;
  • Identify and provide information on the causes and reasons for the poor classification;
  • Undertake measures to prevent, reduce or eliminate the causes of pollution.

The relevant local authorities, in consultation with Irish Water, have developed management plans for improving the water quality of the poor bathing waters. A summary of the management plans is provided in the ‘Assessment’ section of the relevant Bathing Water page in Splash.

The management plans for the poor bathing waters were submitted to the EPA for review. The EPA will be liaising with local authorities to assess the implementation and effects of any management measures during the 2015 bathing season.

As a consequence of a ‘Poor’ classification a bathing restriction (advice against bathing or bathing prohibition) will be in place at all poor bathing waters for the entire 2015 season. The restriction applies to bathing and the beach itself can be used. Check out the relevant Bathing Water page on Splash for details on bathing restrictions.

Monitoring of the poor bathing waters will continue to be undertaken throughout the 2015 bathing season and will be available on beach noticeboards and on Splash.

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Provision of Bathing Water Information in Ireland

Over the past few years a number of IT systems have been developed by the EPA to collate and manage bathing water data with local authorities and to provide bathing water information to the public.

Bathing Water Results

Local authorities report to the EPA bathing water bacteriological results, throughout the bathing season, via a Monitoring Data System (MDS) on the Environmental Data Exchange Network (EDEN). The EPA internal bathing water management system automatically publishes the monitoring results, along with an assessment of likely water quality status of each sample, on the Splash website for the public. Monitoring results are also posted on beach notice boards throughout the season.

Bathing Water Profiles, Monitoring Calendars & Identification

Local authorities report to the EPA prior to the bathing season, their annual identified bathing waters, any new bathing water profiles or updates and a monitoring calendar for each bathing water via a Bathing Water Information System (BWIS) on EDEN. Following approval, the EPA internal bathing water management system automatically publishes any new profiles or updates, along with key bathing information such as seasonal bathing restrictions, on the Splash website for the public. Bathing water profiles can be viewed, printed or downloaded from Splash.

Bathing Water Incidents

Local authorities report to the EPA during bathing season, any bathing water incidents that arise via a Compliance and Risk Information System (CRIS) on EDEN. The EPA internal bathing water management system automatically publishes new incidents with suspected cause, expected duration and any bathing restriction, on the Splash website for the public. A new incident also automatically triggers sending of a tweet to notify followers of @EPABathingWater twitter account of the start of the incident. When local authorities notify via CRIS an incident is over then the EPA internal bathing water management system automatically removes the incident from Splash and sends tweet to followers of @EPABathingWater to notify the incident is over.

Bathing Water Assessments & Classifications

At the end of the bathing season, all the bathing water results, once reported by local authorities, are validated by the EPA. The annual water quality assessment of each bathing water using results from a four year period (current and three previous seasons),  is undertaken by the EPA Bathing Water Unit. Prior to the next bathing season, the EPA internal bathing water management system publishes the annual classifications and assessments for each bathing water on Splash.

Splash

Splash (splash.epa.ie) was developed by the EPA to be the national bathing water information website for identified bathing waters around Ireland. You can check out the latest bathing water quality, see if there are any current incident warnings or notifications and learn more about your favourite beach.  You can check out the annual classifications and learn more about bathing waters.  The content provided on Splash (monitoring results, incident information, water quality assessments, profiles, photographs, etc.) is supported by a number of IT systems to automatically update the content in a timely manner so the public has up to date information on bathing waters.

@EPABathingWater Twitter account

The EPA Bathing Water twitter account was set up to provide followers with news and updates on bathing waters. Followers will also receive tweets of the start and end of incidents notified, during the bathing season, at identified bathing waters. Follow us today!

Annual EPA Bathing Water Quality Reports

The EPA prepares a report on the assessment of Ireland’s identified bathing waters each year which can be viewed and downloaded from the EPA website www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/water/bathing .

Reporting to the European Commission

The EPA is required to report annually specified bathing water information to the European Commission:

  • By 1 June – Identified bathing waters and associated bathing season information
  • By 31 December – Monitoring Results, Bathing Water Classifications, Incident Information

The EPA internal bathing water management system generates the bathing water information in required formats for reporting to the European Commission by these deadlines.

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Bathing Water Legislation

The 137 identified bathing waters in Ireland are monitored, managed and assessed under the requirements of the Bathing Water Quality Regulations, 2008 (S.I. No. 79 of 2008). The Bathing Water Regulations:

  • give stronger focus on the protection of bather health by introducing stricter standards for water quality and a new assessment method; 
  • establish a more proactive approach for the assessment of possible pollution risks and the management of bathing waters;
  • promote increased public involvement and improved dissemination of information on bathing water quality to the public.

The Bathing Water Regulations establish stricter microbiological threshold values for two new parameters, Intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli, which significantly reduce the risk of contracting gastro-intestinal illness from bathing. They also establish a new classification system for bathing water quality based on four classifications 'Excellent’, ‘Good’, 'Sufficient' and ‘Poor’. The classification of bathing waters is determined, in general, on the basis of a four-year period instead of the monitoring results from a single bathing season. This means that the classification is less susceptible to bad weather or one-off incidents. 

The overall objectives of the Bathing Water Regulations require that:

  • all identified bathing waters be classified as achieving at least Sufficient status by 2015;
  • all appropriate measures are taken to increase the number of identified bathing waters classified as 'Good' of 'Excellent'.

The local authorities have the primary responsibility for the monitoring and management of bathing waters and for the implentation of management measures to reduce or eliminate sources of pollution. The EPA's role, as regulator, is to ensure that the requirements placed on local authorities are carried out in accordance with the 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations.

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Identified Bathing Waters

Identified bathing waters are sea, river or lake surface waters which local authorities consider to be widely used by the public for bathing. Identified bathing waters are monitored, managed, assessed and reported under the requirements of the 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations. Only identified bathing waters can be considered for an award under the Blue Flag programme.

Each year, on or before 24 March, local authorities are required for the upcoming bathing season to identify bathing waters within their area which they consider to be widely used by the public for bathing. Local authorities are required to encourage and seek nominations from the public for the identification of new bathing waters using various communication tools such as websites, radio, newspaper advertisements, conferences etc. The decision on the identification of new bathing waters lies with the relevant local authority. 

Public participation is run generally during the bathing season but the duration can vary depending on the local authority. If you wish to propose your favourite beach as a new bathing water contact your local authority to find out when is their period for public participation, what information is required and the channels by which your suggestion can be conveyed to the local authority. 

In 2015 there are a total of 137 identified bathing waters which is approximately 1 for every 40km of coastline in Ireland. Since 2008 only eight new bathing waters have been identified. Overall, numbers of identified bathing waters have increased by only six (from 131 to 137), as two bathing waters have been delisted (no longer identified). Since 2008 the number of local authorities that have identified bathing waters remains at 18 and no new inland bathing waters have been identified (9).

Local authorities report their identified bathing waters and public participation measures undertaken to the EPA via the EPA Bathing Water Information System on EDEN (Environmental Data Exchange Network) by 24 March each year. The EPA publishes the identified bathing water information to the public on Splash and reports this information to the European Commission by 1 June each year.

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