Monday 16 September 2019

Questions raised over bathing beach bans

Ban came on one of the hottest and busiest bank holidays of the year

Warning sign erected at Rosses Point beach last week
Warning sign erected at Rosses Point beach last week

Paul Deering

The exact cause of an increase in bacteria which resulted in shock bathing bans at two of the county’s most popular beaches for two days in the run up to the August Bank Holiday has not been revealed yet.

Questions will undoubtedly be raised by the local communities as to how the situation arose and what solutions are planned to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Of particular concern will be the status of the county’s only Blue Flag beach, Rosses Point and whether this episode will have any future bearing on the this designation.

Councillor Declan Bree said he was really surprised to learn that microbiological analysis on the samples of water taken at Rosses Point beach last Monday week were non-compliant with the Bathing Water Regulations.

The notices were erected in accordance with national protocol, agreed between HSE and EPA. Trigger values have been set nationally and if these are exceeded, notices must be erected.

The level of Intestinal Enterococci in the samples taken on July 29th showed non-compliance with trigger values.

The HSE were asked for advice and in accordance with national protocol, they recommended a prohibition on bathing as a precautionary measure, said Sligo County Council.

It said the bacteria tested are indicators of faecal contamination, elevated levels may cause illness, so as a precautionary measure the HSE placed the temporary prohibition on bathing at Mullaghmore and Rosses Point beaches last Thursday (August 1).

Bathing water monitoring takes place fortnightly from the 27th May to the 9th September 2019.Further samples were taken on Thursday afternoon and the bans were lifted when the results of these became known on Saturday afternoon.Even at the initial stages the council was hopeful that the prohibition notices could be removed over the weekend.

The council said the follow up samples showed a return to excellent water quality and following consultation with the HSE the ban on bathing was lifted.

Most of those whom The Sligo Champion spoke to on Friday afternoon at both beaches were unaware of the bathing prohibition with some claiming the signs were too small to see.

Councillor Marie Casserly said she has been asking for a long time for a definitive date for when Mullaghmore will have a new waste water treatment plant. “Over the past five years I’ve requested very regularly for the holding tank at Mullaghmore to be desludged and have kept the pressure on Irish Water for Mullaghmore to be added to the Donegal Bundle to start in March 2022.”

Regarding Rosses Point, Cllr Casserly said a holding tank is in use currently and is to be replaced with a pumping station with work to start early 2021.

Sligo Champion