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Mystery smell causes headache for coastal Kerry village

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Waterville

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Fianna Fáil Councillor Norma Moriarty has told The Kerryman that private householders in Waterville have contacted her to say sick relatives of theirs can’t even sit comfortably in their own home at times owing to a mysterious, foul odour lingering in the coastal village.

It has been suggested that the ‘pungent’ smell may derive from seaweed trapped in the village’s seafront rock-armour system, as opposed to issues with the local wastewater and public-water treatment system, and the issue is being looked into by Kerry County Council and Irish Water. Representatives of both bodies have visited the location, water sampling has been carried out there, and it’s understood no issues arose from this testing.

Cllr Moriarty has said that, whatever the cause, the matter needs to be addressed quickly and doesn’t want to see whoever is responsible for addressing it passing the buck.

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“After years of campaigning we have a state-of-the-art wastewater and public-water treatment system in Waterville,” she said. “But what we thought we’d seen the end of when that was put in place were foul odours, because that would have featured at various stages in the past. This happens periodically, but this summer, it was quite strong. It’s a pungent odour, and it can waft, you don’t know where it’s going to go.

“I have had private households and people who have sick relatives who weren’t able to comfortably sit in their own homes because, once it gets in the window, it can sit for a while. We offer a brilliant tourism package in Waterville, but it’s very difficult to explain to people why there’s an unpleasant odour there. Fine, if it’s seaweed, it’s no harm to a person, but it’s still unpleasant, and nobody wants to linger in a place where you have an unpleasant odour. We want it addressed.”

Cllr Moriarty has said the only way of knowing whether or not the odour is emanating from trapped seaweed is by taking action at the suspected source: coastal rock armour. She also argued that the rock armour’s location within a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) does not wash as a reason for not carrying out this work.

“We’re hearing that it’s an SAC and it’s not straightforward. That’s fine, but you can go in at low tide, and you’re literally moving what’s already in place, you’re just building it back up again,” she said.

“If it is seaweed, and I’m still saying ‘if’, the only way we’re going to be certain is getting a machine in, redoing the stonework and rebuilding the revetments, putting them in the correct structure, as they were intended, so you won’t have these traps created. Seaweed will come in at various stages during the year, fresh seaweed is no harm to anyone, but the tide should be able to wash it back out.

“We also need to reposition the rocks supporting the bank, which supports the main Ring of Kerry road. This has been raised before, and I think we should be able to get both jobs done at the same time.”

The Kerryman has contacted Irish Water and Kerry County Council for comment.


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