Locals and representatives in the Clifden area are renewing their call for a long-awaited wastewater treatment plant to be given the green light following an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) report which revealed how a popular beach has failed, six years in a row, to meet basic water quality standards.
The results of the EPA report ‘The Quality of Bathing Water in Ireland - An Overview for the year 2010’ were released earlier this week showing that 127 of the 131 designated bathing areas in the country meet the EU mandatory standards, and are classed as being of ‘sufficient’ water quality status, and 118 out of the 131 of bathing areas are classified as ‘good’. However, Clifden beach has been named as one of the four bathing spots that failed to comply with the minimum mandatory standard. The others include Sutton Burrow beach in Dublin, Lilliput at Lough Ennel in Westmeath, and Ballyallia in Ennis, Clare.
According to the report the EPA classified the seawater bathing area at Clifden beach as being “poor for the past six years” and said it “requires an appropriate wastewater treatment facility and other adequate measures if the bathing area is to comply with EU standards”.
Local county councillor Eileen Mannion told the Advertiser yesterday that she was not surprised by the results of this latest EPA report and that this, together with the loss of the beach’s blue flag, has had an adverse affect for the area which is very popular with tourists. Cllr Mannion confirmed that she has already written to the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, calling for him to prioritise the Clifden Sewerage Scheme as a matter of urgency.
The Fine Gael councillor further explained that she will continue to put pressure on the Minister to get the final go-ahead for the Clifden Sewerage Scheme which she expects will be received by the end of this year. The Clifden Sewerage Scheme with costings believed to be in the region of €5.5 million had first been mooted in the Clifden Regeneration Strategy Plan as far back as 1995.
“The scheme has been included in the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, however it was also included in the 2003-2005 programme, the 2004-2006 programme, and the 2005-2007 programme. We’ve been waiting for this new plant for more than 15 years now.
“The contracts are currently with the Department and I am hopeful of getting the go-ahead this year, however the money is the issue. I have written to the Minister last week and again this week in light of the report, and I will continue to put pressure on him until the scheme is delivered as it is essential for Clifden to have a fit for purpose wastewater treatment plant,” said Cllr Mannion who added that despite the status of Clifden beach there are many other beaches - Coral Strand, Mannin, Fountain Hill, Omey, Dogs Bay, and Renvyle - which are safe to swim in and very popular bathing spots with locals and tourists alike.
The EPA report awarded a ‘good’ water quality status to a number of beaches in the Galway County Council local authority area. These include: An Trá Mór, Coill Rua, Indreabhán; bathing place at Loughrea Lake; bathing place at Portumna; Céibh an Spidéil; Cill Mhuirbhigh, Inis Mór; Goirtín, Cloch Na Rón; Trá na bhForbacha; Trá na mBan, An Spidéal; Trá an Dóilín, An Ceathrú Rua; Trá Chaladh Fínis, Carna; and Traught, Kinvara.
With regards bathing areas within the Galway City Council local authority area both Salthill and Silver Strand received a ‘good’ water quality status.