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Seas the day EPA calls for more water quality monitoring as all-year round swimming becomes more popular

There are now 111 out of 148 bathing waters deemed "excellent" in 2020, an increase of four compared to the previous year

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Swimmers at Dublin's Forty Foot. Picture: Collins

Swimmers at Dublin's Forty Foot. Picture: Collins

Swimmers at Dublin's Forty Foot. Picture: Collins

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called for additional water quality monitoring at beaches where there are large numbers of year-round swimmers. 

With many people now swimming outside the bathing season, the agency said that local authorities and Irish Water must continue to address sources of water pollution that impact beaches to ensure that public health is protected.

It follows the release of the latest bathing water quality report that found four bathing areas - at Clifden Beach in Galway, Lilliput in Westmeath, Cúas Crom in Kerry and Balbriggan Beach in Dublin - failed to meet minimum standards last year.

However, the report notes that water quality is continuing to improve overall with 96 per cent of Ireland's bathing waters now meeting the EU's minimum standards.

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Hardy souls jump into sea at Forty Foot

Hardy souls jump into sea at Forty Foot

Hardy souls jump into sea at Forty Foot

There are now 111 out of 148 bathing waters deemed "excellent" in 2020, an increase of four compared to the previous year while two beaches with "poor" water quality in 2019 have improved - Ballyloughane Beach in Co Galway and Brook Beach in Portrane, Dublin.

EPA Director Dr Eimear Cotter said the continued improvement in bathing water quality is welcome.

“It is also positive to see two new beaches being identified in 2020, and to see improvements at two beaches that had poor water quality previously,” Dr Cotter said. “Good quality bathing waters are important now more than ever as more people enjoy our natural amenities, and particularly swimming.

“The water quality at some beaches can be impacted when pollution, from wastewater and agriculture, gets washed in following heavy rainfall.”

Dr Cotter added: “Local authorities and Irish Water must continue to address sources of water pollution which impact some of our beaches to ensure that public health is protected.”

Swimmers are encouraged to check www.beaches.ie for the most up to date water quality information.

Speaking on Newstalk this morning, the EPA's Mary Gurrie says water sport enthusiasts and sea swimmers should be aware of the effects of rain at all bathing spots.

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She told Newstalk Breakfast: "The water quality can change in the short-term, particularly after heavy rainfall. People need to be aware of that.

"As a rule of thumb: if there has been heavy rain and they do swim regularly, the water quality may not be as good as it usually is. Keep that in mind."

However, she said the quality of Irish bathing waters is overall a "good news story".

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