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Saturday 24 August 2019

'Race will go ahead' - Liffey Swim gets green light despite 'exceptionally poor' water quality

Swimmers take part in 2016
Swimmers take part in 2016

Ian Begley and Gabija Gataveckaite

The 100th Liffey Swim will kick-start the long weekend as planned, despite the river's water quality being described as "exceptionally poor".

But those hoping for summery conditions as they enjoy the bank holiday may be disappointed, with thundery showers anticipated across the weekend.

Temperatures are set to range between 18C and 22C across the country today, but heavy rainfall is also expected to be intermittent as hundreds of swimmers get set for the 100th edition of the Liffey Swim in Dublin.

Earlier this week, a burst of heavy rainfall in Dublin caused sewer debris to seep into the Liffey, prompting Dublin City Council (DCC) to test the water quality in the run-up to the landmark event.

The council said Irish Water was also made aware of an overflow or discharge of sewage from the sewer network. It said the discharge may have been active for some days before it was rectified but added that the utility company had told them the matter had been resolved.

"The results are exceptionally poor and significantly exceed the maximum permitted levels for designated bathing waters," a council spokesperson said. "Due to the fact the annual Liffey Swim is scheduled to take place, DCC has notified the HSE and the event organisers of these sample results.

"Unfortunately, it is not possible to get any more up-to-date samples taken and tested in advance of the event. The river Liffey is not a designated bathing water location".

In a statement last night, Liffey Swim organisers said they were aware of the water quality concerns, but said further high tide overnight with dilute contaminants in the water.

"All involved know there are risks associated with sea swimming but we understand a lot of people are very excited about swimming tomorrow," they said.

"We urge all 650 swimmers to read the HSE advices and to make their own individual decision about participating in the race."

Meanwhile, tomorrow's weather will offer little comfort as the thundery showers will spread throughout the country.

"Showers will become widespread, some of them will give longer spells of rain in places with a risk of thunder, particularly parts of west Munster and Connacht," Met Éireann's Jean Byrne told RTÉ, with a similar risk of showers on Monday.

Irish Independent

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