A reoccurrence of beach closures in Clare cannot be allowed to happen in high season again, the Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District has stated.
Referencing the widespread beach closures in Co Clare during the summer months and the concerns surrounding water quality in some coastal areas, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) urged Clare County Council to begin ‘intensive engagements’ with responsible agencies and stakeholders. He aimed for such talks to “establish the cause of the deterioration in water quality with a view to ensuring every possible action is taken to avoid a reoccurrence”.
Protecting public health formed the reasoning behind water notices in beaches such as Kilkee, Quilty, Spanish Point, Lahinch and White Strand (Miltown Malbay) during the months of July and August as advised by the HSE, senior engineer Brendan Flynn advised.
He stated, “In general Clare blue flag beaches enjoy excellent water quality throughout the summer season”. Flynn acknowledged that during periods of heavy rainfall, run-off from surrounding catchment areas affects some beaches. Regular contact is maintained with landowners to ensure compliance with the Good Agricultural Practice Regulations 2017, the environmental official commented. Close engagement with Irish Water “to identify deficiencies and deliver improvements to waste water infrastructure which may also impact bathing water quality, Flynn added.
Recalling the do not swim notices and beach closures in place over the summer, Cllr Garrihy reflected, “It is happening at the most inopportune times, it caused major bad publicity for the area and inconvenienced a lot of people who had come to Clare on their staycation”. He urged Clare County Council to “be the adult in the room and bring all these organisations together”. The Lisdoonvarna representative maintained, “Multiple issues led to the do not swim notices”.
An omission of reference to public wastewater treatment systems was described as striking by Cllr Shane Talty (FF). “There is a need to assess these wastewater drainage systems around the towns and villages and see where the heavy flow of water is coming from”.
Two projects are presently underway in Kilkee, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) outlined. “We could end up with two very expensive projects and still end up with beach closures in Kilkee, we could still end up with €6 or €7m being invested and the beach still being closed,” he cautioned.
Further engagement with Irish Water is required, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) believed, “We know from the motions put forward that there is a lot of problems with Irish Water and the villages along the western seaboard”.
Acting senior executive officer, John O’Malley told councillors that the issue surrounding beach closures was “very complex”. He admitted, “The level of rainfall we are getting year-round is showing up the weaknesses we have with our infrastructure.