17/10/2013

NI Beaches Achieve 100% Quality

Every one of Northern Ireland's 23 beaches officially identified as bathing waters have passed the EC Bathing Waters Directive mandatory standard for water quality.

The announcement makes 2013 the best year ever for bathing water quality in Northern Ireland, since bathing waters were first designated under the EC Bathing Water Directive in 1994.

All beaches were classified as having 'good' water quality or better.

20 of the 23 beaches also met the higher guideline standards, meaning the water quality at those beaches was 'excellent' over the summer bathing season.

Commenting on the results, Environment Minister H Durkan said: "This is brilliant news for bathers. Northern Ireland’s beaches are some of the finest in Europe and one of our best assets. It is fantastic to see our beaches performing so well on water quality.

"My Department has worked closely with its partners through the Good Beach Summits to ensure that our bathing waters and the rivers which flow into them are adequately protected. A lot of work has been carried out particularly in catchments that have previously had poorer water quality. NI Water made significant improvements to the sewage treatment network and this is now paying off in our water quality results.

"The greatest threat to our bathing water quality is heavy rainfall. Whilst we did experience some great weather in June and July, August and September brought some very heavy downpours so it would seem that the new infrastructure is managing that pollution risk and better protecting our bathing waters.

In 2012 only one beach failed to pass the mandatory standards, in spite of it being the second wettest summer since 1912.

Stricter standards for assessing bathing water quality are to be introduced in 2015 through the implementation of the revised EC Bathing Water Directive. The standards will be approximately twice as strict.

George Butler, Director of Asset Management for NI Water said: "The major investment over recent years at Newcastle has really helped to improve the bathing water quality and I would like to thank all the organisations who have helped to make this happen."

(IT/CD)

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