Bathing water quality

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What is bathing water quality in Ireland like?

The quality of Ireland’s bathing water is extremely high. 94% of our bathing waters comply with strict European Union standards and achieved a water quality status of at least ‘sufficient’ in 2014.

Good quality bathing water is an excellent natural resource for recreational use, as well as being an important factor in Ireland’s economy. Ireland possesses some of the best waters in northern Europe. We have put regulations in place to:

  • improve health protection for bathers by introducing stricter standards for water quality and a new method of assessment
  • establish a more pro-active approach to the assessment of possible pollution risks and the management of bathing waters
  • promote increased public involvement and spread improved information on bathing water quality to the general public

Who is responsible for bathing water quality?

In Ireland, local authorities are responsible for bathing water quality in their areas. This includes monitoring bathing water quality and giving information to the public on water quality during the summer bathing season. You can view the most up to date information on bathing water quality at designated sites on the splash website .

You can find further information on bathing water quality on the EPA website.

What is the Blue Flag scheme?

The Blue Flag scheme has been operating in Ireland since 1988. It is an internationally recognised quality standard for coastal amenities. A Blue flag is a sign of a clean, well-managed coastal amenity, meeting high safety and environmental standards. A blue flag also shows excellent water quality standards, set by European and national regulation, have been met.  In 2014, 86 Blue Flags were awarded in Ireland; 81 for beaches and five for marinas.

In Ireland, we give financial assistance to An Taisce  to run the Blue Flag scheme. It is a voluntary scheme, operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). The European Jury of the FEE decides the quality criteria set for Blue Flags and the awarding of Blue Flags.

How do I apply for Blue Flag status?

To apply for Blue Flag status, a bathing area must be a designated under Bathing Water Quality Regulations and comply with the guideline standards laid down in the European Union Bathing Waters Directive . These two conditions must be met in the bathing season (1 June to 31 August) of the year prior to application.

Furthermore, the bathing area must meet requirements in relation to the facilities available and general management at the beach. Evidence of plans for environmental improvements and future environmental education projects are also taken into account when a decision to award a Blue Flag is made. Further information about the scheme can be found at An Taisce Blue Flag Scheme

Where can I get further information?

For further details on bathing water quality in Ireland, please email waterquality@housing.gov.ie or contact us in the Water Quality section on LoCall 1890 20 20 21 or +353 (0)1 888 2000.

The rates charged for the use of 1890 (LoCall) numbers may vary among different service providers.