Nine popular Irish beaches fail minimum quality test including Dunmore East.

I did a Research Thesis on Tramore’s sewage problems as part of a post-grad Diploma in 2000/01. In fact it was sewage pollution in Waterford, and Tramore particularly that started my interest in the environmental area.

As part of my research I looked at the EU bathing Water Standards procedures. One thing that struck me was how flexible the testing procedure is in its requirements. I came to the conclusion that given how it was possible to arrange testing times that it was quite difficult to FAIL. Therefore a failing beach had to be fairly bad.

I also discovered at the time how local people in affected areas will deceive themselves first as a prerequisite to deceiving others. I had also written to Radio and caused quite a stir at the time. I have particular memories of people from Dunmore East clamouring to agree that they also had a serious problem that was being ignored as the town surged in growth without adequate sewage treatment facilities.

Amongst those at the time denying any problem were local politicians who had actually been elected on this issue, but subsequently denied there was a significant problem and many local businesses whom failed to understand how lies about pollution are more detrimental to getting problems addressed than the truth or just felt unable to safely raise the issue. Regional press printed untrue statements form politicians, and a completely untrue schedule for addressing the problem was repeated and allegations about my truthfulness in the original letter I wrote.
The following year Tramore lost its Blue Flag status.

It took about six to seven years longer than the public statements made by Town and County Councillors, and County officials to finally rectify the problems. Think about this. Ten years after I made sewage problems in Waterford (albeit quite briefly) a subject discussed nationally, and in which the pollution problem in Dunmore East was vociferously raised by locals, the problem continues.


From the yearly EPA report, in the Irish Times.

“POPULAR BEACHES around the country are continuing to fail minimum EU water quality standards because of inadequate sewage infrastructure, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said.

Nine of the State’s 131 beaches and lake shores which are designated by local authorities for bathing failed to meet minimum clean-water standards last year, showing no improvement in numbers since the previous year.

2008 had been the worst year for bathing water quality since records began in 1991. The same number of beaches failed the minimum test in 2009. Although the bathing areas found to be unclean last year are not all the same ones that failed the test the previous year, some are persistent failures.

Fingal in north Dublin had the worst-quality bathing water of any county in the State with three of the nine failing beaches located at Balbriggan front strand, Skerries south beach and Burrow Beach in Sutton. While Sutton and Skerries are new to this year’s list, Balbriggan appeared last year.

In Galway, Clifden has again made the failure list and in Westmeath Lilliput at Lough Ennel failed to meet the minimum standards again this year.

The remaining beaches which were deemed clean in 2008, but were last year found to have excessive amounts of faecal coliforms in their waters leading to their failing the minimum test, were Dunmore strand, Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Duncannon, Co Wexford, Killalla Ross beach, Co Mayo, and Youghal main beach, Co Cork.

Dunmore East had for several years been one of the poorest performers. It improved in 2008 to meet EU requirements but slipped again last year below the minimum standards.

Wet summer weather, which resulted in overflowing drains and excess run-off from land during heavy rains, particularly in agricultural areas, contributed to poor results in recent years, EPA programme manager Micheál Lehane said, but those which failed persistently had long-term sewage problems.”


4 thoughts on “Nine popular Irish beaches fail minimum quality test including Dunmore East.

  1. here’s an interesting one, just looking at the epa / splash site and it says counsellors is ok, but the strand is not. technically these are the same beach (you can walk between them all the way up high tide +- 2 hours or so)

    btw havent ever spotted any brown torpedos there, but its what you cant see is the problem.


    • Yes, this is a problem with designation. It occurs because the beach being tested is defined as a specific length by the submitting Council, and consequently the sea directly in front of it is tested. This may be ok for the beach but obviously is nonsense with respect to water.

      A good example is Tramore again. The Blue Flag-designated beach is only that in front of the Prom. Once you pass beyond the Lifeguard Station you are outside the designated area. This is a problem for a variety of reasons including:

      1: Water doesn’t obey the line 2: It’s not advertised therefore few people realise it. 3: The main bathing area is actually at Pebble beach beyond the Lifeguard Station. 4: The water further down  is NOT tested, even though it’s closer to the sewage pipe. 5: Sections of beach which are actually therefore not tested can become accepted or rejected by association. 6: If one part of a beach is not submitted as a designated bathing area, it’s not tested and may be therefore de-facto acceptable.

      In Tramore it’s nonsense to separate the two. It could be a similar effect for Dunmore/Councillors.     I’ve seen floaters, condoms, sanitary products etc in Dunmore when surfing, along with the obligatory diesel taste.


  2. Worrying all right. But I think we’ve all suspected other beaches at other times too. It just depends whether the measurement is taken around a rain downpour or recent sewage discharge


    • Actually that’s not the case. It’s not just a case of bad timing. In fact the Directive used to specify this kind of event and allow for it. The Directive is specifically meant to be used to monitor long-term quality problems, not short term events.

      The EU Bathing Standards Directive (it’s been years since I read it now and I know it got updated in 2006) only set out the minimum standards for each test component, and the number of times (16) that the test must be carried out. It also neglects many things it should test for, in favour of simplicity, now only testing for 2 items (under stricter limits) instead of the previous 19.

      It doesn’t specify tide times, regularly recurring specific times, effects of local weather etc. Only a minimum number of tests per “bathing season” plus the initial assessment tests. So the collecting agency could change test times to avoid worst-case times or sewage discharge.

      So you have the flexibility to choose the testing time…and it STILL fails. And there is no control on all the other polluting items. I’ve seen,( therefore you must have), all the detritus floating around Dunmore.

      When have you seen any of the following in Dunmore?:

      -notification that the bathing water is subject to short-term pollution, -an indication of the number of days on which bathing was prohibited or advised against during the preceding bathing season because of such pollution, -and a warning whenever such pollution is predicted or present.

      All of these are meant to happen if there’s a problem measurement. wrote: > New comment on your post “Nine popular Irish beaches fail minimum quality test including Dunmore East.” > Author : colm (IP: , > E-mail : > URL : > Whois : > Comment: > Worrying all right. But I think we’ve all suspected other beaches at other times too. It just depends whether the measurement is taken around a rain downpour or recent sewage discharge > > You can see all comments on this post here: > > > Trash it: > Spam it: > > > You can reply to this comment via email as well, just click the reply button in your email client. > > > >


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