Dog fouling on Dublin beaches linked to most non-swimming notices

Dog disturbances on public beaches have been blamed for the majority of the temporary bathing prohibition notices issued by Dublin City Council last year.

Council officials claim that owners’ failure to clean up after their dogs at popular sea locations has meant incidents of dog littering during the 2021 bathing season are “a significant strain of multiple bathwater failures and prohibitions.” And the root cause”.

“Dog contamination is the opposite of other water quality pressures. It can be easily corrected and completely prevented,” the council said.

A new report shows all four notices issued last year by the local authority temporarily banning swimming on Sandymount Strand and one of two notices related to Dollymount Strand being cited for incidents of dog contamination. was linked to.

Dublin City Council monitors water quality at six locations in Dublin Bay – Dollymount Strand, Sandymount Strand, North Bull Wall, Half Moon, Shelley Banks and Marion Strand.

The report shows that five of the 20 samples taken at Sandymount Strand last year during the bathing season that ran between June 1 and September 15 had recorded “poor” water quality.

A “poor” classification means that the specimens exceeded the recommended range of ecoli and intestinal enterococci which are indicators of watery stool content.

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Two samples at the North Bull Wall in Dublin failed to meet water quality standards. Photo: Brian Lawless

Two specimens at Merion Strand and two at North Bull Wall also failed to meet the required standards as well as one in Dollymount Strand.

However, five out of every six samples were classified as “excellent”.

Overall, the classification of two EU designated bathing areas under the control of the Council – Dollymount Strand and Sandymount Strand – are “good” and “adequate”, respectively.

The council said it has over the past two years carried out novel testing methods to differentiate between fecal contamination of human and animal origin such as dogs and birds as part of its investigative surveillance program in collaboration with UCD’s School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science .

It said such information was particularly useful in identifying potential sources of pollution that were not caused by a drainage infrastructure system that could cause problems after periods of heavy rainfall.

Council officials said UCD researchers using PCR testing were able to use bacteria specific to each species to identify and quantify the source of faecal contamination.

“A review of the 2021 PCR analysis conducted by University College Dublin indicates that the dog feces market was the most frequently detected and quantified feces market and at times reached very high levels,” the council said.

While dog fouling was known to be a strain on water quality, the council said the latest tests showed the true extent of its spread and damage.

The results showed that dog feces in water samples taken from Sandymount Strand on September 15 last year contained 10 times the level of humans.

About 200,000 gene copies were found in dog feces per 100 ml of water, compared to fewer than 20,000 gene copies for human matter.

While the overall level was much lower in other tests, dog contamination remained the predominant type of faecal matter in most other samples.

The council said it would encourage all dog walkers to take after their pets, especially on beaches.

Separate figures show that only two motives have been issued by council dog wardens for dog squabbles across the city in the past three years, while none were issued last year.

The council also stated that it was unable to designate North Bull Wall as an EU-identified bathing area due to persistent issues of poor water quality at the location.

Labor counselor, Dermot Lacey, said the confirmation of dog fouling, the main source of pollution on the Sandymount Strand, would come as no surprise to people living in the area as it was an issue that constituents regularly raised.

Mr Lacey believed there was a need for a new type of community warden with responsibility for traffic, litter and dogs around the city to help tackle issues such as dog littering.

“We need wardens to be on the spot to deal with problems and this is a role that can easily pay for itself,” Mr Lacey said.