Just 1 in 6 Irish beaches and rivers meet minimum European standard of cleanliness
Only one-in-six Irish waterways were found to be clean to the "European norm".
A new poll released by the Irish Businesses Against Litter (IBAL) found that only 7 of the 42 Irish rivers, beaches and harbours studied reached a minimum standard of cleanliness based on general European standards.
These waterways are:
- Curracloe beach - Wexford
- Kilmore Quay harbour - Wexford
- Lough Rea (Loughrea) - Galway
- River Nore - Kilkenny
- Salthill beach - Galway
- Seapoint beach - Wexford
- River Shannon (Carrick-on-Shannon) - Leitrim
However, three waterways were classified as "littered": the River Avoca in Wicklow, Balbriggan beach and harbour in Dublin, and Cork Harbour (Blackrock Castle).
Additionally, three waterways were classified as "heavily littered", the harshest classification on the list: River Barrow (Carlow), Cork Harbour (Midleton), and River Tolka at Annesley Bridge (Dublin).
The most common forms of litter found during the assessments were food wrappers, plastic bottles, cans and cigarette butts.
According to the poll, new research has shown that even a single cigarette butt can contaminate up to 200 litres of ground water.
Conor Horgan of IBAL said: "Our regular surveys consistently show 80 per cent of our towns to be clean. We cannot say the same for our beaches and waterways.
"For us as a business group this is about protecting tourism and our recreational assets, but it is equally about global impact and our future – the litter we encounter in these areas will typically enter our seas and add to the problem of marine litter, which is threatening our very survival."