EMERGENCY measures are being put in place to ensure Duncannon Beach remains open for the foreseeable future.
A decision on a new waste water treatment plant for Duncannon is due on April 28 and a county council meeting has been specially fixed to rubber stamp the plant in May.
Gerry Forde said Duncannon is one of six designated bathing areas in the county, adding that it attracts many people and is of a significant economic value to the county's economy. Mr Forde said up to 5,000 people attend the beach on hot summer days.
The EPA is drafting a report which is due out next month regarding water quality in Duncannon, which is classified as poor.
Mr Forde said were it not for the new temporary waste water treatment plant for Duncannon, restrictions would be placed on use of the beach waters this summer.
He said surface water is discharged into the beach. 'Any general improvement in water quality will be slow. We plan to take samples every week during water bathing water season.'
The meeting heard that raw sewage is still going into the estuary and that there is no waste water treatment plant in the village which has a population of 839 people.
Mr Forde said the plant is due to be commissioned by the end of May and will have a capacity for 1,000 people. It is proposed that the unit will be located in the existing boat yard and storage area to the north of the harbour.
Mr Forde said Duncannon is in the village sewerage treatment scheme but Irish Water said it would not be completed in a short time frame.
Director of Services Eamonn Hore said the bathing water quality in Duncannon is a serious issue.
He said a decision was reached for the waste water treatment plant due to concerns about the economic impact of any further beach closures.
Cllr Martin Murphy asked if cars will still be allowed onto the beach if restrictions are in place and Mr Forde said no vehicle or pedestrian access will be blocked.
Cllr George Lawlor said 11 per cent of the total landmass of the country drains into the Duncannon estuary. 'Have we consulted with other councils for funding?'
Mr Forde said Wexford County Council will have to cover the costs of disinfecting the stream.
Cllr Deirdre Wadding asked if there was any danger to wildlife or fish. Cllr Larry O'Brien said the closing of the beach has led to major problems in recent years in Duncannon.
'It's our jewel in the crown. This will cost between €400,000 and €500,000 but it's important.'