Smart Coasts

About Smart Coasts = Sustainable Communities

The aim of Smart Coasts = Sustainable Communities was to equip Irish and Welsh INTERREG area communities to maintain the economic and strategic value of near-shore waters to their economies, thereby assisting the aims of the Lisbon Strategy and the Gothenburg Declaration by contributing directly to sustainable development. Two inter-dependent demonstration actions were undertaken on the Irish and Welsh coasts (Bray, Co. Wicklow adjacent to the Dargle catchment, and nearshore and coastal areas of Swansea Bay).

These complementary activities were aimed at illustrating the methods needed to implement real-time bathing water management for public health protection and sustainable bathing water compliance in complex bathing water systems. This was done by developing real-time management systems, first suggested by the World Health Organisation, and since incorporated within the revised Bathing Water Directive.

The deployment of information and communications technology (ICT) tools and real-time public information systems, developed in the project, aimed to improve the maintenance of public health and increase the number of beaches passing the new EU standards, thus qualifying for awards such as the Blue Flag.

The project was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Programme (INTERREG 4A).


Real-time prediction of coastal water quality can ensure protection of public health and produce more ‘excellent’ quality bathing waters in Wales and Ireland. It is recommended by the World Health Organization.


Smart Coasts = Sustainable Communities developed practical management models at two exemplar sites in Ireland and Wales. At these sites, we collected high quality data to underpin credible model design. Two types of models were investigated: (i) simple black-box models where compliance is related to, for example, rainfall or river flow thresholds; and (ii) more complex process-based models linking land surface runoff with near-shore flow patterns producing pollutant concentrations at impacted bathing sites. The modelling tools were designed to be generic, transferable and incorporate considerable practical operational input to their design from our partners in Wales and Ireland.

As a spin-off of the work, the new data acquisition provided excellent information on the relative contributions of different pollution sources to the receiving waters at the two demonstration sites. In Wales, this data resource will be used by Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water and the Environment Agency Wales to ensure cost effective and evidence-based decisions are taken on any future improvement strategies that must target both ‘point source’ infrastructure and ‘diffuse source’ pollution loading from catchments draining to the sea.


We specifically chose Swansea Bay and Bray Beach for this project, i.e. bathing waters which are currently not considered excellent. Swansea Bay and Bray were ideally suited for this project, since they are not industrialised, have beaches within walking distance of thousands of residents, are popular destinations for tourism and watersport activities and had received significant investment to improve infrastructure and recreational facilities.


The project commenced in July 2010 with completion and reporting in 2015.

Principal Investigators

  • Professor David Kay (Aberystwyth University) – Lead Principal Investigator
  • Professor Wim Meijer (University College Dublin)
  • Dr Mark Wyer (Aberystwyth University)
  • Associate Professor John O’Sullivan (University College Dublin)
  • Professor Gregory O’Hare (University College Dublin)

Our Partners

About the Funding Programme

The Ireland Programme 2007 – 2013 was managed by the Southern Regional Assembly in Ireland under the 2007-2013 EU Structural Funds programmes. Priority 2 of the Programme supports projects which have a positive impact on local communities in the cross border area and are closely aligned to EU, Irish and WAG strategies to promote sustainable development and tackle climate change.

Previous Related Research Projects

ICREW (Improving Coastal and Recreational Waters for All) – Interreg IIIB Atlantic Area

Principal Investigators (UCD)

  • Professor Wim Meijer
  • Dr Bartholomew Masterson

The objective of ICREW was to improve the contribution of coastal and inland waters used for leisure purposes to sustainable economic prosperity and to enhance quality of life in the Atlantic Area, by reducing their pollution and improving their quality.

The EU Bathing Water Directive sets mandatory standards for water quality at bathing water sites. This Directive was revised in March 2006 and the new standards were substantially tighter than previously.

Considerable investment has already been made across the EU in improving the treatment of sewage effluent that discharges to our rivers and coasts. However, the new standards in the Directive required us to focus our attention away from large sewage discharges to less obvious forms of pollution such as diffuse run-off from agricultural land. The outputs from ICREW provided member states with common tools to investigate and reduce pollution, encouraging consistent compliance with the Directive standards across the EU.

SMART (Sustainable Management of near shore water quality for Aquaculture, Recreation and Tourism) – Interreg IIIA Ireland Wales

Principal Investigators

  • Professor David Kay
  • Dr Bartholomew Masterson

The overall aims of the SMART project were to build on the results of the partners’ INTERREG IIIA project “Achieving EU standards in recreational waters” in applying the predictive tools developed for integrated pollution budget analysis and computer modelling of “point” and “diffuse” sources of pollution to ensure sustainable management of high quality shellfisheries and recreational water environments in Ireland and Wales. Specifically, the project utilised the joint “diffuse catchment sources” model developed by the teams in their last INTERREG II project and apply this to three new areas, namely: Carmarthen Bay (Wales), and Dublin Bay and Bannow Bay (Ireland.)


Swansey and Bray

Sampling Ireland

Sampling Wales

UCD Persistence Study

Smart Coasts Launch Ireland


This project has been part funded by the ERDF though the Ireland Wales Programme 2014 -2020.

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