Catchment News

EPA publishes 2019 Bathing Water Quality Report

| in News, Science, Stories

The EPA has today published the Bathing Water in Ireland report for 2019 which sets out the quality of bathing water at our beaches. Overall, bathing water quality improved across the country in 2019, although quality did decline at some locations.

“The improvements in bathing water quality are welcome and it is good to see Local Authorities identifying and classifying new bathing waters. Local authorities must remain vigilant to ensure public health is protected and continue to identify and fix sources of water pollution which impact on our beaches. The declassification of Merrion Strand after five years at poor status is disappointing and action must be taken to ensure that no other bathing water is declassified in future.”

EPA Director Dr Micheál Lehane

In summary the key findings in 2019 were:

  • 95% of bathing waters (140 of 147) met or exceeded the minimum required standard. This is up from 94% in 2018.
  • 107 (73%) were classified as ‘excellent’, up from 103 in 2018
  • 24 (16%) were classified as ‘good’, up from 22 in 2018
  • 9 (6%) were classified as ‘sufficient’, down from 12 in 2018

Two bathing waters – Inchydoney East Beach in Cork and Cúas Crom in Kerry – were newly identified in 2019 and will be classified later this year.

Three bathing waters, all in Dublin, were classified for the first time. They were:

  • The Forty Foot Bathing Place (classified as ‘excellent’)
  • White Rock Beach (classified as ‘excellent’)
  • Sandycove Beach (classified as ‘good’)

As in 2018 the water quality at five beaches was classified as ‘poor’. They were:

  • Merrion Strand, Dublin
  • Portrane (the Brook) Beach, Dublin
  • Ballyloughane Beach, Galway
  • Clifden Beach, Galway
  • Lilliput, Lough Ennell, Westmeath

Merrion Strand was classified as ‘poor’ for five years in a row meaning this bathing water will be declassified as a bathing water in 2020.

“Ireland has many beautiful beaches. Enjoying these natural amenities can be good for our physical and mental wellbeing, and it is therefore essential that Ireland maintains good bathing water quality. Throughout this summer water quality information and details of any incidents affecting bathing waters will be displayed on the website”

Mary Gurrie, EPA Programme Manager

The EPA is reminding anyone using or swimming at beaches this year to follow the public health advice, the Government Roadmap to Reopening Society and Business, and any local information in relation to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Learn more:

Information about water quality, tides, weather and accessibility of your local beach is on

Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 2019 (full report)

Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 2019 Infographic

Bathing Water Quality In Ireland 2019 Map

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,842 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures to protect and restore our waters.