*Photograph: John Mangan
An increase in gastrointestinal complaints have been observed in Lahinch over holiday periods, a local pharmacist has warned.
Concerns have been expressed in the seaside town with the amount of planned housing developments in the locality impacting on the sewage system.
In 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency flagged that raw untreated sewage was being released into the sea at Lahinch.
Approval has recently been granted for 26 houses on the School Rd in Lahinch while plans for a further 28 houses on the Station Rd have yet to be approved.
One Lahinch businessperson told The Clare Echo that since 1969 approximately 200 houses have been built in the area but that no upgrades have been carried out to the sewage system. Swimmers in Lahinch have developed e-coli as a result of the area’s water quality, one local resident told The Clare Echo.
Further information has been sought by Clare County Council into plans lodged in February to construct 28 houses on the Station Rd in Lahinch. Concerns on the overall surface water flow were raised by the local authority. The attenuation system proposes to discharge all the surface water from the site to three percolation areas, however the Council noted that these do not have an outfall to an existing surface water drain or sewer “therefore all surface water from site is going to ground”.
Sasha Wealleans who works as a pharmacist in Lahinch in a submission to the local authority flagged the need to pay attention to the water utilities which “already seem to be at capacity”.
She stated, “water quality is significantly compromised due to a lack of infrastructure. The tap water in the village is discoloured and tainted, especially after rainfall. The treatment of wastewater and sewage is substandard. During holiday periods, there is an increase incidence of gastrointestinal complaints that present in the pharmacy”.
Hotelier, Michael Vaughan said continued development of Lahinch was welcome but put forward the case for permanent dwelling houses to add to the area’s vibrancy. At peak, there are over 4,000 inhabitants in Lahinch, “it is uncertain whether the current sewage treatment facility has the capacity to effectively treat the waste created when Lahinch is at peak occupation”.
Other submissions also highlighted concerns relating to the wastewater treatment. “No planning permission should be given till Irish Water and Clare County Council upgrade the local effluent treatment and water system,” John Vaughan of Ennistymon believed.
The North Clare branch of the Labour Party have also voiced their opposition to further housing developments until an upgrade is carried out. They referenced the closure of the beach last year on the advice of the HSE. “The high levels of bacteria in the water were considered such a serious health hazard to bathers and surfers that the beach was closed and the Blue Flag status removed until the HSE lifted the ban,” Robert Bennett wrote on behalf of the branch.