- Blue Flags are awarded on the basis of:
- Compliance with Blue Flag criteria relating to water quality, facilities for visitors, beach management including litter control, environmental education and the provision of information.
- The application received for the award including all enclosures and required information such as bathing water profile, bathing water calendar, lifeguard timetable etc.
- The results of in-season beach inspections which are carried out on 100% of all awarded beaches.
- Recommendations of the National and International Blue Flag juries.
BEACH AWARDS & WATER QUALITY
- Since 2012, beaches applying for Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards are assessed based on the standards of the new EU Bathing Water Directive. This requires that the water quality of candidate beaches are assessed using a 95th percentile calculation over a 4 year period.
- Only beaches that meet the excellent standard for both E. Coli and Intestinal Enterococci parameters are eligible for the award.
The Blue Flag programme in Ireland has been the driving force behind improvements in water quality for many years and as an award of excellence the Blue Flag implemented the stricter standards in Ireland in 2012. The microbiological standards of the 2006 EU Directive are almost twice as strict as the 1976 EU Directive band representing a lowering of the risk threshold for bathers to ca. 3% with the more stringent category of “Excellent” water quality being applied.
BLUE FLAG CRITERIA SUMMARY
Criteria under which Blue Flag beaches are assessed (33 criteria):
- Environmental Education and Information
- Information about the Blue Flag must be displayed
- Environmental education activities must be offered
- Information about bathing water quality must be displayed
- Information relating to local eco-systems and environmental phenomena must be displayed
- A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed
- A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws governing the use of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed
2) Water Quality
- The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements.
- The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis.
- No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area.
- The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the microbiological parameter Escherichia coli (faecal coli bacteria) and intestinal enterococci (streptococci)
- The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for physical and chemical parameters.
3) Environmental Management
- The local authority/beach operator should establish a beach management committee.
- The local authority/beach operator must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach.
- The beach must be clean.
- Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach.
- Waste disposal bins/containers must be available at the beach in adequate numbers and they must be regularly maintained.
- Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach.
- An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided.
- The toilet or restroom facilities must be kept clean.
- The toilet or restroom facilities must have controlled sewage disposal.
- There should be no unauthorised camping, driving or dumping of waste on the beach.
- Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled.
- All buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained.
- Coral reefs in the vicinity of the beach must be monitored.
- A sustainable means of transportation should be promoted in the beach area.
4) Safety and Services
- An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach.
- First aid equipment must be available on the beach.
- Emergency plans to cope with pollution risks must be in place.
- There must be management of beach users and events to prevent conflicts and accidents.
- There must be safety measures in place to protect beach users.
- A supply of drinking water should be available at the beach.
- At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have wheelchair and accessibility features.
- Wheelchair access and accessibility features must be in place for at least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality.
For more on the Blue Flag please see the Blue Flag Ireland website
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