The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is calling for additional water quality monitoring at beaches where there are large numbers of year-round swimmers.
The call comes as it published its Bathing Water in Ireland report for 2020 which sets out the quality of bathing water at beaches in Cork and around the country.
The report found that overall, bathing water quality improved across the country in 2020.
Water quality was measured at 148 locations, with 96 per cent of bathing waters (142 locations) meeting or exceeding the minimum required standard.
This is up from 95 percent in 2019.
However, the report highlights that water quality can change quickly in the short term, especially during rainfall events which can wash pollution into our bathing waters.
In Cork, water quality was measured across 14 locations and was found to be excellent at 11 locations namely: Barley Cove; Fountainstown; Garretstown; Garrylucas, White Strand; Inchydoney East Beach; Inchydoney West Beach; Owenahincha, Little Island Strand; Redbarn; Tragumna; Warren, Cregane Strand; and Youghal Claycastle.
Bathing water quality was deemed to be ‘good’ at Youghal, Front Strand Beach and at Coolmaine.
One bathing water in Cork was described as ‘sufficient’, namely Garryvoe.
It was among 10 bathing waters nationally classified as sufficient, which is the minimum acceptable standard.
The EPA said that local authorities should carry out appropriate actions to improve the ‘sufficient’ bathing waters to good or excellent, and to prevent deterioration to ‘poor’.
Commenting on the report, EPA Director Dr Eimear Cotter said: “Good quality bathing waters are important now more than ever as more people enjoy our natural amenities, and particularly swimming. With many people now swimming outside the bathing season, the EPA is calling for additional water quality monitoring at beaches where there are large numbers of year-round swimmers, and that this information is made available to the public.”
The EPA noted that water quality at some beaches can be impacted when pollution, from wastewater and agriculture, gets washed in following heavy rainfall.
It said 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.