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Tuesday, 11th May 2021

Water quality at Meath beaches to be tested all year round

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Brrr - swimmers take to the waters for a chrity swim a couple of years ago. Weekly testing won't make the water warmer but it will provide information on how safe the water is.

Move designed to facilitate increasing number of daily sea swimmers

Meath County Council is to become the first local authority in Ireland to test the quality of the bathing water at local beaches every week of the year rather than just the in the summer months.

The move, which is designed to facilitate the growing number of people taking to the water on a year-round basis, comes following a motion from East Meath Councillor Sharon Tolan which received the unanimous support of her fellow members of Meath County Council yesterday.

Councillor Tolan told yesterday’s meeting that the quality of the water had not been tested since 14th September 2020 and the next scheduled test is not until the 24th of May.

 “Our traditional bathing season in Ireland runs from the end of May to September, and these weekly samples and testing have given great comfort over the past 40 years, since testing first began in 1992” she said. 

“However, over the past number of years, and especially over the past 13 months since Covid, more and more of the public right around the country, have begun enjoying open water sea swimming on their local beaches. 

“For many it has become a daily ritual, an activity that has not just been a positive benefit for their physical health, but even more critically a really positive benefit for their mental health and wellbeing.

“Here in Meath alone, we have hundreds who are swimming daily at Mornington, Bettystown, Laytown and Gormanston.  Sunrise swimmers, high tide swimmers, evening swimmers….whatever fits their schedule, more and more people are ensuring they get to swim in the sea every day.”

Councillor Tolan told Drogheda Life that water quality is influenced by the weather, especially rainfall levels, which of course are higher in winter when, up to now, no testing has been carried out.

“Heavy rainfall can increase the likelihood of the runoff of agricultural manures from fields, or more likely in East Meath, the discharges of sewage from storm outfalls” she said.

Thanks to this decision Meath County Council will soon be taking samples of the water every week of the year, having them tested in a laboratory and publishing the results so that swimmers can make informed decisions about whether or not to go swimming.

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