Bathing water regs aim to inform swimmers

Local authorities in Ireland will have to monitor bathing waters from 2011 under proposed regulations published by the government.

The draft regulations, which are now open to public comment, are intended to ensure Ireland’s waters comply with the EU’s Bathing Water Directive, adopted in 2006.

Ministers said it will set strict new standards for bacteria levels compared to existing guidelines.

To achieve the highest rating, excellent, it will have to meet water quality criteria roughly twice as strict as those used under Ireland’s Blue Flag scheme, which designates the country’s best beaches.

Environment minister John Gormley said: “This will provide a clear and simple mechanism to assess and report the true quality of our bathing waters and to communicate the position to the bathing public.

“Information must be updated and made available promptly to the public.

“Bathers will be in a better position to make informed decisions about bathing or not bathing on a particular day or at a particular location.”

Under the proposed regulations, all bathing waters across will have to be monitored for bacteria such as E-coli.

Samples will be analysed by local authorities and sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the end of October every year.

EPA experts will then classify the water as excellent, good, sufficient or poor, and report back to the EU, beginning in 2015.

Local authorities will have to permanently advise against swimming in waters which do not achieve sufficient status.

Mr Gormley hopes to incorporate the regulations into national law by March 24 to meet the EU’s deadline.

Kate Martin

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