Going for a swim in the warm weather? Make sure to check the water quality first!

Published by Dave Brooks on

July 19th, 2016

With temperatures hitting +30° in parts of the country today, people across the country are heading to bathing locations in droves. If you want to check the quality of the water before diving in, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have developed an online platform where they post up-to-date information regarding bathing quality, the presence of lifeguards and other important information about beaches, lakes and rivers.

The EPA’s Splash website, splash.epa.ie, features an interactive colour-coded map where users can find out about water quality, if dogs are welcome at the beach, and if first-aid or life saving services are available. The profile of each location displays an image of the beach as well as the current weather conditions and how popular the site is as a bathing location.

Peter Webster, Senior Scientist at the EPA is encouraging everyone to use Splash when planning their trip to a bathing location. “Almost three quarters of our beaches are classified as ‘excellent’ by EU standards so we really should make use of these great natural resources on our doorsteps. We would urge anyone heading to the coast or to inland bathing sites to check out the water quality at the SPLASH website and sign up to the EPA on Twitter @EPABathingWater to receive alerts of any problems at our beaches.”

With regards to beach litter or illegal dumping that visitors may witness, the EPA encourages people to use the “See It Say It” app to report any environmental concerns: By taking a photo, and adding some details, this app enables people to make a complaint about issues such as dumping of litter or other environmental problems.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the following are safety recommendations for those visiting bathing locations during the hot weather, as the infrequency of the fine weather can lead people to swim in unfamiliar waters, which all too often leads to tragic drowning incidents.

  • Never go swimming alone: It’s safest to swim with a friend but at the very least, always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back
  • Don’t drink and swim
  • Take note of warning signs: Always observe any closure, advisory, or safety hazards signs, they’re there for your safety
  • Respect your surroundings: Take a ‘leave no trace’ approach to prevent and minimise harm during your next summer trip. While at the beach or outdoors, make sure to dispose of litter properly in the waste and recycling bins provided or alternatively bring your waste home and dispose of it later
  • Water quality can deteriorate quite quickly after very heavy rainfall, especially at beaches near urban areas, and the red flag can also be flown where pollution is likely or where there is an increased risk of illness if you go into the water
  • Know the warning flags: Never swim where a sign says not to or when the red flag is flying. The red flag is flown when there is a water safety risk e.g. the presence of dangerous under-currents
  • Avoid harm from sun exposure: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to reduce the intensity of the sun rays. Apply sunscreen -15-20 minutes before sun exposure. Limit exposure especially between the hours of 10am and 2pm as UV rays are strongest at these times, especially during the summer


[x_button shape=”square” size=”regular” float=”none” href=”http://splash.epa.ie/#idbw/IEEABWC090_0000_0100″ info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Click here to visit the EPA’s Splash website[/x_button]

[x_button shape=”square” size=”regular” float=”none” href=”http://www.epa.ie/enforcement/report/seeit/” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Click here to learn more about the ‘See it Say it’ app[/x_button]


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Dave Brooks

Dave works as Communication Assistant with the Environmental Pillar. His background is in psychology and he has a masters in Environmental Psychology from the University of Surrey.