Coastal pollution undermining Dublin’s tourism, says councillor

Green Party’s David Healy says raw sewage being discharged into Capital’s bathing areas

With five locations in Dublin failing to meet minimum standards –  Portrane, Rush South, Loughshinny, Merrion Strand and Sandymount Strand (above) – Dublin’s bathing waters were worse than in 2016. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

With five locations in Dublin failing to meet minimum standards – Portrane, Rush South, Loughshinny, Merrion Strand and Sandymount Strand (above) – Dublin’s bathing waters were worse than in 2016. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Dublin is being promoted on the basis of its “wonderful natural environment”, but the reality is raw sewage continues to be discharged into many bathing areas along its coastline, according to a Green Party councillor.

The discharges are contributing to a continuous decline in water quality at most bathing areas stretching from North Co Dublin around to Dublin Bay, and especially in Howth and at Sandymount and Merrion strands, Cllr David Healy said.

This trend – with some areas subject to regular discharges and others periodically affected after heavy rain – was confirmed in the 2017 Environmental Protection Agency report on bathing water quality published on Wednesday, he said. It found five out of 15 monitored bathing water areas in Dublin did not meet minimum EU standards.

‘Natural environment’

Fáilte Ireland is promoting Dublin’s wonderful natural environment, especially our coasts and beaches, in its ‘Dublin – A Breath of Fresh Air’ campaign. Unfortunately, Irish Water is still discharging raw sewage into Dublin Bay [at] Doldrum Bay in Howth on a continuous basis, while sewers across the city overflow onto rivers, streams and beaches when there is heavy rain,” said Cllr Healy, who represents Howth-Malahide on Fingal County Council.

The Government must show greater urgency in tackling the problem of water quality

“The European Commission is taking Ireland to court for failing to invest in cleaning up our sewage, and this EPA report will be further evidence in that case.”

Tourism was a huge driver of the economy in coastal areas, and must be protected, he said.

“The Government must show greater urgency in tackling the problem of water quality. We have consistently sought a timeline to address these failures – they must step up to the mark to protect our coastal communities.”

Minimum standards

With five locations in Dublin failing to meet minimum standards (Portrane, Rush South, Loughshinny, Merrion Strand and Sandymount Strand), Dublin’s bathing waters were worse than in 2016, “which is hugely concerning,” said Cllr Healy.

The report confirms periods of heavy rain and strong winds, which were particularly evident last year, caused deterioration in water quality in some cases “due to the churning up of sands and increased run-off from urban areas; fields, surface waters and wastewater overflows”.

During the summer season from June to mid-September the public can access current information about bathing water quality including details of any incidents affecting bathing waters on www.beaches.ie

If heading to the beach, the EPA says it is advisable to check the website or use a Twitter notification service via @EPABeaches

The 2017 summary bathing water quality report and map of all monitored bathing areas is available at www.epa.ie