Bathing water quality

Northern Ireland’s bathing season begins on 1 June and ends on 15 September each year. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is responsible for monitoring and making sure that Northern Ireland's coastal waters are of high enough quality to bathe in.

Water quality monitoring

Between May and September, DAERA monitors bathing water at 23 sites across Northern Ireland.  The sites are monitored weekly and water is classified into one of four categories - ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ or ‘temporary advice issued against bathing’. 

Provisional 2017 Bathing Water Compliance

Bathing water Compliance level
Magilligan (Benone) Excellent
Magilligan (Downhill) Excellent
Castlerock Excellent
Portstewart Excellent
Portrush (Mill) West Excellent
Portrush (Whiterocks) Excellent
Portballintrae Excellent
Helen's Bay Excellent
Groomsport Excellent
Tyrella Excellent
Murlough, County Down Excellent
Cranfield (Cranfield Bay) Excellent
Ballycastle Good
Ballygally Good
Brown's Bay Good
Crawfordsburn Good
Millisle Good
Portrush (Curran) East Sufficient
Waterfoot Sufficient
Carnlough Sufficient
Ballywalter Sufficient
Newcastle Sufficient
Ballyholme Poor

Blue Flag beaches

Beaches with an 'excellent' water quality compliance result may be eligible for the Blue Flag award, which also looks at beach management and facilities such as litter collection, toilets, car parking, disability access and life-saving equipment. The award applies during the bathing season.

In Northern Ireland the scheme is run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, along with the Green Coast and Seaside Award schemes. In 2016, there were 10 Blue Flag beaches in Northern Ireland and 11 beaches also received the Seaside Award, which recognises beaches with good water quality.

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