Help Kerry County Council Designate Your Swimming Areas

A flying leap:  A swimmer taking a flying leap into the River Feale at the back of the local town park.  ©Photograph: John Reidy
A swimmer taking a flying leap into the River Feale at the back of the local town park. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Tens of thousands of people have been enjoying a dip in Kerry’s pristine lakes, rivers and beaches during the recent sunny weather. What most swimmers don’t know is that city and county councils must designate official bathing areas in their area every year so that they can be monitored for safety, water quality and their level of use.

“To help with this process, Kerry County Council is now asking people who swim at beaches, lakes and rivers to tell them if they think they should maintain existing, designated, bathing waters or give a new official bathing area designation to areas that are commonly used for swimming but not designated at the moment,” according to a notice from the council.

“Under European and Irish law, city and county councils must identify bathing waters each year so that these areas can be monitored to ensure they meet stringent microbiological water quality standards.

Surfers silhuetted against a sunlit, incoming tide on Kerry's  Bannna Beach .  ©Photograph: John Reidy
Surfers silhouetted against a sunlit, incoming tide on Kerry’s Bannna Beach. ©Photograph: John Reidy

In some cases the official bathing areas are also the areas where council’s focus their resources by providing lifeguards during the summer season.  These laws also require that the council prepares detailed descriptions or profiles for each of the designated bathing water sites,” according to the report.”

“These describe not just the bathing area but also areas in the surface waters catchment area that could be a source of pollution. The profiles include an assessment of the risk of pollution and what action would be taken if pollution happens.

If you are a regular swimmer and want to help Kerry County Council decide which bathing areas should be designated for 2016, it might be helpful to consider the following:

How your swimming area has been used up to now; How many people use the site; What facilities exist at the site and how accessible it is and are there any safety issues.”

If you wish to propose your favourite beach/river etc as a new bathing water site or comment on an existing site please contact Kerry County Council, Environmental Services 066 71 62 000 or email  Closing date for submissions to Kerry County Council is 28th July 2015.