A do not swim notice in Kilkee “couldn’t of happened at a worse time in the year” as businesses recorded a dip in activity as holiday makers vacated the location as a result.
On Saturday, Clare County Council issued a bathing restriction on the advice of the HSE following the discharge of wastewater into the sea which arose due to a burst water main. Water quality tests saw the lifting of the restriction on Wednesday. The Kilkee Bay Swim had to be postponed until August 24th and the Munster Life Saving Championships delayed a day and moved location.
Criticism has been fired at Irish Water due to the negative impact to businesses in the town. In a statement to The Clare Echo, Irish Water highlighted referenced “the age and poor condition of Ireland’s sewer networks” as a factor for such instances. They apologised to businesses, residents and visitors for the inconvenience caused.
“In Kilkee, upgrade work was carried out to the pumping station in 2017 and 2018 including the installation of new pumps and associated equipment and the upgrade of the electrical systems. Irish Water is also working to deliver a new Wastewater Treatment Plant (WwTP) and associated works for Kilkee, stopping the discharge of the equivalent of 8,000 wheelie bins of sewage per day to Intrinsic Bay near Kilkee. It is intended that this will be complete by 2021”.
Cllr Cillian Murphy told The Clare Echo the timing for such a ban was awful. “Businesses lost out on bookings. It happened on a weekend and we’ve just had it lifted on Wednesday afternoon, we’ve had a lot of people head back to Limerick until the notice was lifted, that’s people out of the town which means revenue is out of the town at high season, the peak two weeks of the year, you couldn’t of had a worse time for this to happen, it’s not good at any time but from a commercial business point of view it’s the worst time of the year to happen”.
A co-owner of Murphy Blacks Restaurant, the impact was visible for Cillian to see. “We’ve definitely seen a drop in the restaurant this week. It’s one of the two busiest weekends of the year for us, we’ll be facing down in the order of 15 to 20 percent which is significant for the week, it might pick it up but it’s very hard for a small business to recoup that loss. The big issue is what happens next year, people are making the decision to book in Kilkee next year, will they won’t they, things like this influence their decision making”.
Though Irish Water have stated they aim for the wastewater treatment plant to be in place by 2021, Murphy is not convinced, “In the history of water treatment plants for Kilkee we’re in the 25 year bracket at this stage”. He added, “I would like to think we’re going to get the best possible treatment plant to stand the test of 100 years. There is no point in investing all that money into something that could potentially break down or not work for the amount of people and having to be revisited in five to ten years time, that would be ridiculous. I would welcome a bit of clarity as to what exactly is going to be going in here and an input from the community”.
Clare County Council are also at fault in the matter, the Fianna Fáil representative felt. “The fact we don’t have a treatment plant is unforgivable, that firmly lies at the door of Clare County Council. There was a lot of development levies taken out of the town historically with a lot of building done here which should have been put back into those sort of facilities and it wasn’t. That’s water under the bridge, we are where we are. I would have a bigger problem with the fact that routine maintenance is not being undertaken which means we’re in the position where small things become major things so a burst pipe becomes a significant beach closure at the peak two weeks of the year, that’s not good enough”.
Former manager of The Greyhound Bar, Keith McDonogh said the impact was detrimental to the area. “In this time when people are trying not to fly as much with carbon footprints and Kilkee has the potential to resurge again like it did in the 70s and 80s to be an ecological tourist destination for Irish tourists to be a safe place for your children. If you take that amenity out of it and yet you’re asking the businesses and rate payers to pay an absolute fortune for something they are not getting, it’s Russian Roulette what our local Government is doing and it’s detrimental to our town and it’s sad really, this has been in the running for twenty years to get proper sewerage treatment, it’s really sad”.