While over 90% of our bathing water is classed as excellent or good, a wave of swimming bans have hit beaches across the country due to water quality issues linked to pollution problems and our changing climate.
In the summer of 2020, pollution from sewage after heavy rain caused problems across popular beaches in Clare and Wexford, including Lahinch and Duncannon, as well as swimming spots in the capital. In total, 57 pollution incidents were reported to EPA last year 2020.
Experts have identified persistent problems due to overflows from wastewater systems, as well as overflowing sewers and pump stations during rainfall and storms, as key concerns predicted to get worse due to climate change.
Another issue is the piping of untreated sewage directly into the sea, with untreated waste from 78,000 people across 35 towns and villages discharged every day.
The problem is further compounded by recent findings of bowel superbugs off beaches near Spiddal by NUI Galway scientists, with the university currently examining the potential exposure of swimmers and surfers to these antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We will analyse the latest EPA data to identify towns and villages with the worst bathing water across the country and examine the key causes and impact on public health, tourism, and water-based businesses.
We will look into what Irish Water and local authorities are doing to tackle problems of wastewater and to minimise discharges across the country.
We will speak to scientists and academics about the dangers posed to human health and the environment by the problem and what needs to be done to protect swimmers, surfers and seafarers.
If you want to make a contribution to help this investigation happen, click the 'Fund This Proposal' button. Noteworthy investigations are sourced from and crowdfunded by the public.