Wednesday 16 October 2019

'Water quality would be the main obstacle in Dublin' - only two Blue Flags for beaches in the capital for the second year running

Over 80 Blue Flags were awarded in 2019

Caoimhe (7) and Alannah Culhane (5) celebrate the awarding of the International Blue Flag award for 2018 at Seapoint, Co Dublin. Photo: Naoise Culhane
Caoimhe (7) and Alannah Culhane (5) celebrate the awarding of the International Blue Flag award for 2018 at Seapoint, Co Dublin. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Callum Lavery

Water quality issues have been cited as the reason Dublin received only two Blue Flags for the second year running.

A total of 80 beaches and eight marinas around the country received Blue Flags this year.

The Blue Flag award is given out by An Taisce to beaches that meet EU standards in water quality, information provision, safety, and beach management.

“There were only two applications for Blue Flags from Dublin sites, Seapoint and Portmarnock for 2019,” Coastal Awards Manager for An Taisce, Ian Diamond told Independent.ie.

“Other sites may not have applied as to be granted Blue Flag status requires beaches to be rated as having Excellent Water Quality Status.

“For EU countries implementing the Blue Flag it is imperative that an applicant beach is classified as having 'Excellent' water quality.”

Mr Diamond said that in the past, Dublin beaches had fared better in the awards but have stagnated at two flags for several years now.

“They haven’t lost any, they have had only two flags for a few years now. Usually the reason for this is the water quality. Water quality would be the main obstacle in Dublin.

“Historically Dublin has a large number of blue flags, so hopefully wastewater improvements in the future will get more for the county."

Mr Diamond said that the current Greater Dublin Drainage project by Irish Water may help improve beach water quality in the future.

The project proposes building new wastewater treatment facilities, sewers and pumping stations across the county to decrease the amount of wastewater draining into the sea.

A spokesperson for Irish Water said: “Safeguarding the quality of the environment, including bathing waters, is a key part of Irish Water’s role.

“Having adequate wastewater treatment infrastructure is essential to ensuring the quality of coastal waters, as well as facilitating housing provision and commercial development.

“These works will ensure that the wastewater is treated in compliance with EU and national wastewater treatment regulations and returned safely to the environment."

Both Killiney beach in south Dublin and Donnabate on the northside of the county lost their Blue Flags in 2017.

Dun-Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said that they are hopeful of Killiney beach will have it’s flag returned in the near future.

“Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is committed to protecting its coastline environment.

“Council staff undertake daily cleaning, maintenance management, water quality sampling and reporting of all our beaches and work proactively with community groups who have helped with Beach Clean-ups and Clean Coast initiatives.

“Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council are happy to note the awarding of Seapoint in Blackrock as a Blue Flag beach. The Council looks forward to regaining Killiney Beach Blue Flag status in the near future."

Bundoran beach in Co. Donegal lost its flag in this year's round. Despite this, Donegal still has the second largest number of Blue Flag beaches with 11 awarded this year.

County Kerry remains seaside champion maintaining its position as the county with the largest number of Blue Flags with 13 Blue Flag beaches currently in the county.

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