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Bathing water quality

Clare County Council are inviting submissions for the establishment, review and updating of identified bathing waters in County Clare.

Make a submission in relation to your beach

Bathing waters are an important amenity, valuable for both their tourism and recreational potential. It is important that they are afforded the appropriate protections in accordance with legislation, including the European Union's Bathing Waters Directive. The directive requires that water quality at all designated bathing waters meets stringent microbiological standards in order to protect the health of people who choose to bathe there.

The directive was transposed into Irish Law by the Bathing Water Quality Regulations 2008. Under the 2008 regulations, local authorities are required to identify bathing waters. Bathing waters are defined as surface waters where a large number of people bathe and where there is no permanent bathing prohibition. This was done nationally for the first time in March 2011 and is reviewed annually. 

The current list of bathing areas in County Clare is:

  • Cappagh, Kilrush
  • Kilkee
  • Whitestrand, Doonbeg
  • Spanish Point
  • Whitestrand, Miltown Malbay
  • Lahinch
  • Fanore
  • Bishopsquarter, Ballyvaughan
  • Mountshannon (Lough Derg)
  • Ballycuggeran (Lough Derg)
  • Ballyalla Lake
  • Sealfield, Quilty

The regulations require public participation in the identification process. This consultation process provides the public with an opportunity to:

  • Comment on existing designated bathing waters with a view to continuation of designation
  • Comment on other bathing waters not currently designated but which may be considered for designation

To this end, Clare County Council invites comments from interested parties in relation to the identification of bathing waters.  Comments can be submitted throughout the year as follows:

  • By post to: Environment Section, Clare County Council, Áras Contae an Chláir, New Road, Ennis, Co. Clare or
  • By e-mail to:

The closing date for receipt of submissions is the 29th July 2017.

Criteria to be used for identification of bathing waters

The term 'large numbers of bathers' is not defined by the directive but should be assessed in light of past trends at the site or to any infrastructure or facilities provided to promote bathing.

Generally, a 'large number of bathers' will be found at popular, well-used bathing waters and lakes where bathing is encouraged and facilities for bathers have been provided. European law and practice has made it clear that the number of bathers is not the only relevant criterion for identifying bathing waters.

In making your submission in relation to the identification of bathing water sites, it might be helpful to consider the following factors, in addition to numbers using the site:

  • Past trends
  • Infrastructure or facilities provided (including accessibility)
  • Safety considerations

What happens next?

Clare County Council will take due account of the submissions, in drawing up the list of bathing water sites.

The legislation requires the local authorities to develop 'profiles' for each of the designated sites. These are detailed descriptions of the bathing water sites, their characteristics and those of other surface waters within the catchment area, which could be a source of pollution. The profiles will include an assessment of the risk of pollution and the responses to be taken in the event of a pollution incident occurring.

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 17/04/17