Killinure maintains Blue Flag - but Athlone misses out

Killinure Point Marina outside Glasson is one of just two marinas in the country to be awarded a Blue Flag by An Taisce under the latest round of awards.

Located on the inner lakes of Lough Ree on the Shannon, just outside Glasson village, Killinure Point Marina is managed by the Quigleys and Waveline, and has retained its Blue Flag for several years.

However, Athlone Marina failed to regain the Blue flag status it lost in June 2008 as a result of the overflow of sewerage into the river the previous summer. It was the only marina in the country to lose its Blue Flag last year.

According to Athlone town clerk John Walsh, although the quality of Athlone marina is excellent, it is expected it won’t regain its Blue Flag status until the Athlone Main Drainage scheme is completed.

“Athlone Marina lost its Blue Flag last year due to storm water overflow at the marina. This happens very occasionally in periods of heavy rainfall. Because of this we wouldn’t have expected to regain the Blue Flag this year, and that won’t change until the changes are made to the Athlone drainage system,” he explained.

“Just because we don’t have the Blue Flag does not mean we do not have a high standard at the marina. As a standalone facility it is capable of having a Blue Flag. The only issue is the sewerage outflow, which is an exceptional thing that only happens in times of heavy rain.

“Hopefully when the Athlone drainage is complete, we’ll be back,” he added.

The Blue Flag award is presented to beaches and marinas which have excellent water quality, and which achieve high standards across a wide range of other criteria including management of the environment, safety and other services.

In total, 77 Blue Flags - 75 for beaches and two for marinas - were awarded in Ireland this year, an overall decrease of three on last year.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley said the losses were “disappointing especially as a significant effort has been put into the Blue Flag programme at all of these locations”.

Losses were attributed to heavy rainfall during the 2008 bathing season, which causes increased run-off and puts pressure on waste water treatment plants, creating a knock-on effect on the quality of water at bathing areas.

Blue Flags are awarded on the basis of the previous year’s bathing water quality results.

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