Clifden Beach is one of five left in Ireland that still has ‘Poor’ quality bathing water according to the latest report from the EPA released on Thursday.
A ‘Poor’ classification means that the beach has not met the minimum level of bathing water quality standards and a swimming restriction will remain in place for the coming season.
Clifden has been on the EPA’s watchlist since 2016, with the main problems polluting the water being the public sewer network and a storm water overflow at the Clifden wastewater treatment plant.
Other potential sources of pollution include discharges from domestic and non-domestic septic tanks in the area.
According to the report the county council and Irish Water are co-operating to “minimise leaks, spills or overflows of untreated sewage” from the treatment plant.
Irish Water have also said they are planning further rehabilitation works on the local sewer network while the county council is inspecting private septic tanks.
However, there was also improvement in Galway as Ballyloughane Beach was removed from the ‘Poor’ quality list.
A swimming ban at Ballyloughane Beach in place for almost five years was lifted in early April after testing showed improvements in water quality.
Andy Fanning, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment said “It is great to see local authorities identifying new bathing waters with excellent water quality.
But he added that “At the other end of the scale, we have five bathing waters that have been classified as Poor.”
“More intensive action needs to be taken by local authorities to address the issues and protect the health of bathers.”
The 2018 Bathing Water Quality in Ireland report showed that the overall number of beaches with unacceptable water quality levels declined from seven in 2017 to five last year.
Loughshinny and Rush beaches in Fingal were all removed from the ‘Poor’ quality list in 2018, but Lilliput in Westmeath declined from ‘Good’ to ‘Poor’ quality last year.
Ballyloughane and Grattan Road beaches in the city and Trá na bhForbacha in Furbo are currently classified as ‘Sufficient’ standard by the EPA, the minimum acceptable standard.
On Wednesday evening the city council issued an urgent notice that elevated bacteria levels had been found in Grattan road, Silver Strand, Salthill, and Blackrock beaches and put swimming bans in place while further tests are carried out.
According to the EPA 94 percent of beaches in Ireland met water quality standards last year, with the sunny, dry weather throughout much of 2018 a contributing factor to the improvement.
In Galway city Salthill and Silver Strand were both rated as ‘Excellent’ quality in 2018.
Out in the county ‘Excellent’ quality results were achieved at An Trá Mór, Inverin; Bathing Place at Portumna; Cill Mhuirbhigh, Inis Mór; Goirtín beach, Roundstone; Loughrea Lake; Trá an Dóilín, Carraroe; Trá Chaladh Fínis, Carna; Trá Inis Oírr; and Traught, Kinvara.
Two beaches in Spiddal, Céibh and Trá na mBan achieved a ‘Good’ rating and Trá na bhForbacha in Furbo was ‘Sufficient’.