EPA is making waves with new beaches.ie website
The EPA has launched beaches.ie – a new mobile enabled website providing information about bathing water at Ireland’s beautiful beaches and lakes. The website will allow people to access the information they need before a day out at the seaside.
beaches.ie is set up for mobile devices so allowing visitors quick and easy access to a range of bathing information. For example, beaches.ie allows people to find out what the recent water quality has been like at their regular beach, if any swim restrictions are in place, what the weather is likely to be and even what time the tide is due in.
The site also provides information on the amenities available, including access to beach wheelchairs. beaches.ie also provides a link to the popular ‘See it, Say it’ App to make it easy for people to report environmental incidents.
beaches.ie will be updated continually during the summer as results of monitoring become available from local authorities. The information on beaches.ie is based on local authority monitoring of water quality, Met Eireann weather forecasts and Marine Institute tidal information.
beaches.ie updates and replaces SPLASH.epa.ie.
Commenting on beaches.ie, Andy Fanning, EPA Programme Manager said: “With schools closing and the summer in full swing, beaches.ie will provide people with the information they need when choosing which beach or inland bathing water site to visit during the long and hopefully warm summer.
“It is important that local authorities inform the general public when pollution occurs or is predicted at our beaches, so that we can all make an informed choice as to where and when to swim. The beaches.ie site is a valuable addition to information already provided on Local Authority websites and on beach notice boards about water quality data and information on bathing restrictions.
“Anyone heading to the beach during the summer can now find the latest water quality information at beaches on the new website. The annual water quality rating for beaches is also available based on monitoring results for the past four bathing seasons.”
Peter Webster, Senior Scientist at the EPA encouraged everyone to use beaches.ie when planning their summer trips. He said: “Almost three-quarters of our beaches are classified as ‘excellent’ by EU standards, so we really should make use of these great natural resources. We would urge anyone heading to the coast or to inland bathing sites to check out the water quality at the beaches.ie website and sign up to our dedicated Twitter account, @EPABeaches, to receive alerts and updates.”
The EPA has the following advice for people planning holidays this summer:
- Use the new beaches.ie website.
- Take note of warning signs: Always observe any closure, advisory, or safety hazards signs; they’re there for your safety.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use the ‘See it Say it’ App to report any environmental concerns: By taking a quick photo, and adding a few details, this app makes it easier to make a complaint about issues such as dumping of litter or other environmental problems.
- 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.
- 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.
The website beaches.ie is replacing the SPLASH website and has been set up primarily for mobile device users.
The beaches.ie website was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency in co-operation with local authorities and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. Bathing water quality data that is uploaded directly to the site by local authorities will be used by the EPA, to assess the overall compliance of a bathing water with EU standards, and by An Taisce, in their assessment of beaches for Blue Flag status.
Bathing water quality is assessed at an EU level using the bathing water data for the last four bathing water seasons.
EU Mandatory Standards: These are the minimum standards that the water quality at bathing waters must achieve over the bathing season.
EU Guide values: These are stricter guideline standards that bathing areas should endeavour to achieve over the bathing season.
During the summer period local authorities accept public submissions for the identification of new bathing waters. Information is generally available from their websites under ‘Water’ or ‘Environment’. To help the public in this task the EPA have recently launched a document entitled Public Advice on the Identification of new Bathing Waters
This article was first published on www.enviro-solutions.com