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Thursday 22 August 2019

Fears for upcoming water event as swim ban remains at popular Dublin beach

Windsurfers enjoying the good weather at Dollymount Beach, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Windsurfers enjoying the good weather at Dollymount Beach, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

A swim ban remains in place at Dollymount Strand with concerns that a Bloomsday swim to be attended by up to 600 could be affected.

Dublin City Council announced temporary restrictions had been lifted from Sandymount and Merrion strands this evening just after 4pm.

But a swim ban was to stay in place at Dollymount. A Dublin City Council spokeswoman said: "The temporary restriction on bathing at Dollymount beach remains in place.

"Further sample results for Dollymount are expected on Wednesday and the temporary restriction will be reviewed again then."

The restrictions were put in place after an overflow at the Ringsend water treatment plant caused sewage to flow into Dublin Bay last week.

The bans were lifted at all beaches in the Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown area on Sunday night after tests found the water quality had returned to normal.

Irish Water blamed the overflow on last week’s heavy rains, stating the plant "operated as designed" adding that it is not possible to "build a plant that can cope with every single rainfall event that ever occurs."

Irish Water said it is planning €400m worth of improvements to ensure the plant can deal with higher rainfall.

Clontarf Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney said: "We were supposed to get the results today but they are taking further samples.

"There’s a Bloomsday event on Sunday and 600 people are interested in swimming, so we are concerned the ban is not yet lifted."

Cllr Cooney said it was good that the council’s engineers were "airing on the side of caution" with several tests, as there are pregnant and "vulnerable people" who swim in the waters.

But she said the swim bans were "happening too frequently" across Dublin.

"The water is a natural resource and we’re coming up to the summer season," Cllr Cooney said.

"The kite festival was last weekend and the ban was in place the whole time. It is serious, this shows the infrastructure isn’t able to cope.

"Once there’s heavy rain or storm damage, the infrastructure isn’t standing up to it.

"It’s not adequate for the city’s needs. Irish Water needs to sort this out. And if they can’t cope they need to put this back to Dublin City Council’s responsibility, as we believed Irsih Water were going to put a new sewage plant in and that is supposed to come on board but in the meantime there has to be interim measures in place."

There has been major opposition however, to the Clonshaugh treatment, which is being billed as a main measure to take pressure off the wider system.

Campaigners are claiming if the proposal gets the go ahead by An Bord Pleanala on June 28 - any such facility could trigger more swimming bans on the north side.

They are also concerned about a loss of habitat.

The €500m plan has also been opposed for its size - with campaigners stating it will be four times the size of Croke Park.

But Cllr Cooney said an "education" campaign could help alleviate the issue at south side and city centre waterways for now.

If householders, businesses and developers, were informed that constructing hard surfaces and pavements in car parks, was causing more rainwater to gather, then the infrastructure might not be so affected, she felt.

"If everyone puts in surfaces where water can drain, where it’s more permeable, then I feel that will help the problem," she said.

"But we do need major infrastructural changes. We have asked for a meeting with the area committee (at Dublin City Council) to arrange an urgent meeting with Irish Water to see what they could do with regards to interim measures."

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