Tender: Out of season bathing in Ireland – the proposed research would collate all available scientific evidence to help inform policy development and guidance for ‘out of season’ bathing in Ireland

“How can bathers’ health be best protected outside of the current bathing water season?”

The study should include the following:

(i)Identification of national/international research relating to bathing water quality monitoring results, & the associated public communication strategies. (a) Review existing/emerging technologies & methodologies suitable for monitoring ‘out of season’ bathing water quality, including traditional, field-proven & rapid assessment techniques; (b) Review best practice & emerging approaches for effectively communicating monitoring results effectively at the point of need; (c) Provide clear recommendations to inform policy development for ‘out of season’ bathing in Ireland in relation to (a) & (b). (These recommendations should be made in the context of winter bathing water quality monitoring results).

(ii) Comparative review of Member States (MS) management approaches to winter or “out of season bathing”. (a) Review monitoring, risk assessments & public communication strategies considering, in particular, the winter months & the extent of the designated season; (b) Investigate/compare any best practice monitoring, communication & management practices at federal/local level for winter bathing; (c) Provide recommendations to inform policy development for ‘out of season’ bathing in Ireland.

(iii) Review the extent of illness arising from bathers presenting at healthcare facilities & include recommendations on how the public can report issues to facilitate accurate data collection/records. Evidence Review must include, but is not limited to : Irish Water Monitoring data (available end of Q3 2022)

Output is to provide a report including: (i)summary of the overall study findings in terms of monitoring & communication, & management of ‘out of season’ bathing; (ii) recommendations to inform policy development for ‘out of season’ bathing in Ireland; (iii) Short guidance document for bathers including a simple risk assessment tool.

National Bathing Water Expert Group

Advises Minister on the implementation of the regulations, and collaborates on addressing significant issues as they arise.

The current membership of the group includes:

– Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, (Chair)

– the Health Service Executive,

– the Environmental Protection Agency,

– Water Safety Ireland,

– An Taisce,

– Coastwatch,

– Local Authorities, and

– Irish Water.

The key functions of the Bathing Water Expert Group are as follows:

– Advise Minister on matters relating to bathing water protection policy;

– Advise the relevant implementation bodies regarding the implementation of the Bathing Water Directive in Ireland;

– Develop guidance for the implementation of the Bathing Water Directive;

– Evaluate priority actions critical to delivering Ireland’s obligations under the Bathing Water Directive; and

– to provide a national view with respect to developments relating to the Bathing Water Directive and feed this through to the EU Commission and the EU Bathing Water Expert Group.

AIE: members, agendas/minutes (2021-22)

Bathing Water Open Data

This is the Bathing Water Open Data API which has three API datasets: Locations, Measurements and Alerts.

This information is populated using the EPA’s CRM Bathing Water information service and the EPA’s central water quality database Aquarius.

Local authorities report this information to the EPA via the Bathing Water Information System (BWIS) and Monitoring Data System (MDS) applications on EDEN (Environmental Data Exchange Network).

The EPA provides this information to the public via the responsive beaches.ie website.

Local authorities are required to report the information for ‘identified’ bathing waters monitored and managed under the requirements of the Bathing Water Quality Regulations 2008 (SI No. 79 of 2008). In addition, local authorities report information to the EPA for other monitored waters not managed under the Regulations (non-identified bathing waters).


The Duncannon Blue Flag Farming & Communities Scheme

Total budget: 550,000 Euro

Main funding sourceRural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)
Project typeOperational group
Starting date2018
End date2021

The project aims to contribute to the recovery of the Blue Flag status at Duncannon beach, Co. Wexford

To achieve this goal, the project will pursue the following specific objectives:

Sustainably restore, protect and enhance the quality of the bathing and riverine waters at Duncannon by reducing pollution from rural agricultural and domestic sources whilst also protecting farm incomes;

Develop an effective model for future sustainable management of similar catchments &;

Foster positive relations between the farmers and householders in the catchment area and the local natural landscape, particularly the water environment and associated biodiversity.

The project activities are:

Creating farm-specific ‘Pollution Potential Zone’ (PPZ) plans for each farm.

Providing farmers with a full-time ‘Sustainability Manager’ who will help participant farmers achieve the objectives of the project by guiding them through their PPZ plans and by developing and delivering a number of knowledge exchange initiatives.

Monitoring farm practice change and water quality in the wider catchment area

Creating a local awareness programme for domestic waste water treatment systems &;

Developing community wide engagement with the project with the objective of creating a sense of local ownership, responsibility &; appreciation for the local water environment.

Description of the context of the project: 

The elevated bacteria levels of bathing water quality at Duncannon beach together with the loss of its ‘Blue Flag’ status of environmental excellence in 2007 have had a major impact on the tourism potential of the area. For example, bathing prohibition notices had to be enforced as recent as August 2017, during the week of the Hooked KiteFest, due to excessive levels of Intestinal Enterococci (IE) in the bathing water.

Additional information: 

The expected results and practical recommendations of the project are:

Improvement in the bacterial, chemical and ecological quality of the two coastal streams at Duncannon beach.

Improvement in the bathing water quality at Duncannon beach.

A greater sense of local ownership, responsibility and appreciation for the local water environment.

A template for the development of farm-specific pollution potential zone ‘PPZ’ maps and how they could be used as education and engagement tools to show farmers in a simple visual way, the water-quality risks specific to their farms.

Demonstration of a range of innovative and cost-effective farm management practices for water-quality protection.

A template for a water-quality focused, results-based, reward scheme which could be used to improve water-quality in particularly sensitive catchments.

A template for effectively communicating and sharing local water-quality results with the local community and the benefits of same.

A template for establishing local ‘citizen scientist’ groups whereby local community members monitor the quality of their local streams and develop a pollution alert system

Contact person: Wexford County Council

Address: Dr Mairead Shore, Environment Section, Wexford County Council, Carricklawn, Co Wexford Y35 WY93

E-mail: mairead.shore@wexfordcoco.ie

Phone: 00353 53 9196328

Eoin Kinsella, Sustainability Manager,
Environment Section,
Wexford County Council,
Co. Wexford,
Y35 WY93



Project Team

  • Eoin Kinsella (Sustainability Manager)
  • Dermot Leahy (Agricultural Scientist)
  • Brendan Cooney (Senior Executive Scientist)
  • Gerry Forde (Senior Engineer)
  • Nicholas Rossiter (Senior Executive Engineer)

Operational Group

  • Teagasc advisory – Catherine Colfer , Larry Murphy, Ger Shortle, Kevin A. Brennan, Tom Deane
  • Teagasc Research- David Wall, Eddie Burgess
  • Geoff Barry Agricultural Consultant – Geoff Barry, Red Barry
  • IFA – James Wallace
  • Glanbia- Emma O’Grady
  • Bord Bia- Eleanor Murphy

Beaches and Bathing Water Quality: Wicklow

Water quality results for bathing areas and beaches in Co. Wicklow.

Wicklow County Council monitors bathing areas along its coastline during the bathing season, which runs from 1 June to 15 September each year.

There are six bathing waters identified under the Bathing Water Regulations 2008. These are Bray South Promenade, Greystones South Beach, Silver Strand, Brittas Bay North Beach, Brittas South Beach and Clogga Beach.

The Council also monitors six other bathing waters (termed ‘non-identified bathing waters’) in the county: South of Bray Harbour, Kilcoole Beach, The Murrough Wicklow, Wicklow Harbour Bathing Area, Wicklow Harbour Lifeboat Area and Arklow South Beach.

On occasion, warning notices may be issued advising against bathing at bathing waters where the local authority, in consultation with the Health Service Executive, has reason to believe that the water quality may be insufficient and present an increased risk to bathers health. Such notices will be published here and on the EPA beaches website in the case of the six identified bathing waters.

Sampling for water quality takes place throughout the summer from May to September.

The most recent results of samples taken are also shown here.


Beaches and Bathing Water Quality: Dublin

Dublin City Council monitors bathing water quality at its two designated bathing waters namely Dollymount and Sandymount Strands.

Monitoring is also carried out at non-designated bathing waters including Merrion Strand, Shelly Banks, Half Moon and North Bull Wall.

Dublin City Council is responsible for monitoring bathing water quality at its two designated bathing waters namely; Dollymount and Sandymount. Merrion Strand was declassified as a designated bathing water from the 1st June 2020.  

The bathing season is from 1st June to September 15th each year, with pre-season sampling commencing in mid-May.

In addition, Dublin City Council also undertakes water quality monitoring at undesignated bathing areas, namely; Merrion Strand, Shelley Banks beach, the South Bull Wall at the Half Moon Swimming Club, as well as the North Bull Wall.

At least twenty samples are taken from each location during the bathing season.

Dublin City Council monitor water quality throughout the year, outside of the bathing season on a fortnightly basis.

Assessment of water quality involves analysis of two types of bacteria (E coli and Intestinal Enterococci) which may be present in the water. These bacteria are indicators of water quality.

The results are categorised in accordance with Bathing Water Regulations, 2008. Bathing water quality is classified as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘poor’ and these classifications are based on the concentrations of the two bacteria species detected in samples of bathing water.

Latest Bathing Water Results


Temporary Bathing Prohibitions, Advisory and Prior Warning Notices

To protect bather health, it may be necessary to advise against or prohibit bathing at Dublin City Council’s bathing areas.

Bathing water quality is particularly impacted by weather conditions, with factors such as rainfall amount and intensity, temperature, sunlight and tidal conditions being the main influences.

Faecal matter from dogs and birds on a beach can significantly impact on water quality as can temporary overflows from urban drainage infrastructure.

Additionally, if Dublin City Council receives information which indicates a risk of deterioration in bathing water quality, a precautionary advisory or prohibition notice may be issued.

Examples of such include a prediction of an extreme weather event or an exceedance/non-compliance from the Wastewater Treatment Works (i.e. effluent quality fails to meet the conditions of discharge as set out in the Wastewater Discharge Licence issued by the EPA for the Works).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Service Executive (HSE) have established a protocol outlining various recommended actions to be taken by local authorities where, levels of bacteria in the bathing water exceed the satisfactory standard.

In such circumstances, the local authority consults with the HSE in the first instance before proceeding with an agreed action. The public are informed of the short term pollution event through social media, web notifications and by erecting temporary signage at the locations affected.

The website www.beaches.ie shares the latest information on national bathing water quality. Swim restrictions and annual water quality ratings can be found here.

In addition, Dublin City Council operates a series of electronic signs on Dollymount and Sandymount Strands which notify the public when it is unsafe to swim. Once the event has passed and water quality returned to a satisfactory standard, the public are immediately informed


Bathing water quality – review of EU rules

About this consultation

Consultation period

28 October 2021 – 20 January 2022 (midnight Brussels time)

Target audience

All citizens and stakeholders are welcome to express their views – more specifically respondents involved in or affected by the implementation of the bathing water directive: identification of bathing sites and/or monitoring and management of bathing sites and bathing water quality. This would include: EU Member States and their public authorities at national, regional and local level; economic actors such as associations and companies (tourism sector representatives, bathing site operators); water associations at European, national and regional level; international organisations, NGOs, academia, research and innovation organisations and institutes.

Why we are consulting

Since the 1970s, the EU has rules in place to safeguard clean bathing waters. These rules were updated and simplified through the 2006 Bathing Water Directive which, according to the annual reports on the quality of the bathing water, is generally well implemented by Member States. Nevertheless, experience from best practices in some Member States, as well as latest scientific and technological developments point to some areas for possible improvement. Also in light of the European Green Deal, the Directive needs to align with new environmental and climate ambitions. With this consultation, we would like to hear your opinions on the Directive, notably concerning possible shortcomings and issues of emerging concerns both for citizens, health and the environment. Your views will feed into the evaluation and impact assessment that will constitute the evidence base for a possible revision of the Directive.

Responding to the questionnaire

You can contribute to this consultation by filling in the online questionnaire. If you are unable to use the online questionnaire, please contact us using the email address below.

Questionnaires are available in some or all official EU languages. You can submit your responses in any official EU language.

For reasons of transparency, organisations and businesses taking part in public consultations are asked to register in the EU’s Transparency Register.

Respond to the questionnaire


Report on Wastewater Treatment in Galway City

Thanks to extensive research by our Galway City Association, An Taisce has submitted a detailed report to the EPA on the ongoing wastewater treatment issues in Galway City. 

The 250 page report is based on analysis of multiple incidences of untreated wastewater being discharged into the River Corrib and the Galway Bay SAC in recent years. It identifies the root cause of regular discharges of untreated wastewater into the River Corrib at the Spanish Arch/ Claddagh Basin, the regular contamination of Claddagh Beach/ Grattan Beach and why Ballyloughane Beach has failed to secure Blue Flag status.

The report finds that there has been significant under-reporting of discharges of untreated wastewater. It also finds that claims made (that the license issued by the Environmental Protection Agency allows for these numerous discharges) are untrue.


Implementation Strategy for Nature Based Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

A working group has been established jointly by the CCMA and DHLGH to oversee the development of a project scope to deliver an implementation strategy for nature based Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems on a national scale.

This strategy will support the City and County Development plans in the implementation of nature based solutions to surface water
management through water sensitive urban designs.

The provision of interim guidance documentation to the Local and Planning Authorities on measures to be implemented to support the delivery of a greater focus on nature based solutions in advance of a national implementation strategy is also called out in the plan.

Further actions also include:

  1. The National Bathing Water Expert Group to undertake a project to determine the most suitable approach to protecting bathers’ health outside of the current bathing season in Dublin Bay.
  2. DHLGH to amend the existing Bathing Water Regulations (S.I. No. 79 of 2008) to provide discretion to local authorities on determining the bathing season for individual bathing waters.
  3. Establish a programme for the modelling and monitoring of rainwater run-off and overflows.
  4. Oversee the preparation of integrated urban drainage management plans.