Keep dogs and horses off Ballyloughane Beach

A city councillor is appealing to the public to keep dogs and horses away from Ballyloughnane Beach in a bid to protect the water from contamination.

Cllr Terry O'Flaherty was speaking in the wake of the findings of a series of tests which indicate that the water quality at the Renmore beach is "excellent".

However, a "No Swimming" advisory notice is in place there for the fourth year in a row due to poor results in previous years.

"Unfortunately, this advice is set to remain in place for this summer despite the excellent quality of the water at Ballyloughane in each test carried out this year," said the Independent councillor.

The website beaches.ie, maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ), publishes water testing results for almost 200 beaches throughout the country.

It shows that this year's tests at Ballyloughane Beach - one taken in May and an additional three taken in June - showed no evidence of pollution, with the water quality described as excellent each time.

The website points out similarly positive results for 2017 (with one exception in August last year ) indicating that "water quality was better than in previous years and may be an early indication that remedial works have had a positive impact". This will be further assessed at the end of the 2018 bathing season. Cllr O'Flaherty says she is "very confident" that the ban will be lifted next year. Beaches.ie stresses that annual water quality ratings are generally calculated using monitoring results over a four year period and are assessed against stringent bacterial limits to protect bather health.

"The main causes of pollution at Ballyloughane are attributed to deficiencies in the sewer network as a result of cross connections in the catchment and combined storm overflows (CSOs ) upstream of the beach which activate during heavy rainfall and discharge through the surface water outfall that is located in close proximity to the beach."

Dog fouling on the beach has also been identified as a possible contributory factor to the pollution, due to the high level of dog activity on and adjacent to the beach, the EPA report adds.

Cllr O'Flaherty hopes that the water at Ballyloughane will continue to show positive results throughout the summer.

"The biggest problem appears to be when we get heavy rain and contaminated water flows into the sea at Ballyloughane. Efforts have been made to counter this. But one step that can definitely be taken to protect the water there is to make sure that people keep dogs and horses away from the beach, especially during the summer months."

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