Merrion Strand in Dublin Bay has become the first Irish beach to have a permanent swimming ban because of persistent problems with bathing water quality.
The move follows publication of the EPA report for 2019, which confirms the beach was classified as “poor” for the fifth year in a row under EU standards.
Dublin City Council indicated in January if it failed to meet the minimum standards for a fifth consecutive year a “permanent prohibition” on bathing will be put in place.
Portrane’s Brook Beach was also deemed poor for the fourth year in a row and risks being declassified next year unless the quality of the water improves.
EPA director Dr Micheal Lehane said: “Declassification of Merrion Strand after five years at poor status is disappointing and action must be taken to ensure no other bathing water is declassified in future.”
The main difficulty at the city strand is the impact from two polluted streams – the Elm Park and Trimleston streams – which take leaks, spills and overflows from sewage systems and run-off from roads.
Other potential pollution sources include urban wastewater discharges, birds and dogs.
A new task force set up by Dublin City Council is focusing on improving bathing water quality at Merrion Strand and Sandymount Strand.
DCC is also working with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Irish Water to address pollution sources related to the wastewater network including misconnections, combinedsewer overflows and pumping station overflows.
It is considering creating wetlands to improve water quality in the Elm Park stream, while a €9.2m research project aims to identify the main sources of pollution in the Dublin Bay area.
Ongoing difficulties at the overloaded Ringsend wastewater treatment works are also dealt with under the EPA urban wastewater treatment report.