By Amy Rohu and Rose Barrett
Killiney Beach was issued with a swim ban just days after a ceremony took place to celebrate the beaches Blue Flag status. The adjoining White Rock cove was also closed to swimmers with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council “advising the public not to swim at these locations until further notice”.
Swimmers were told that both beaches would open by the end of the week, but some people have been concerned with the quick turnaround from Blue Flag status to a swim ban.
Former local councillor for the area Shane O’Brien said: “It’s something that comes up regularly, E-coli outbreaks in Killiney seem to be a regular occurrence over the last few years, especially if we have any type of rainfall, it seems to be followed by water quality issues.”
When commenting on a possible reason he said: “The big issue seems to be the misconnection in our water treatment system, which is leading to sewage going into our waters. There has been a lot of focus on the water treatment centre and the issues with Dublin Bay. It seems to be a big problem and no-one I putting their hands up.”
He continued: “I think what needs to happen is same-day testing. In Killiney, I had people getting on to me because they still think I’m a local rep, and they were concern because there was no signs up at the beach at the weekend, there was only a post on social media. There was no sign up until the day after, people had been swimming and were not warned about the potential impact on their health.”
A spokesperson for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council confirmed the incident by saying: “Results from water samples taken on June 3indicated high levels of Intestinal Enterococci at both Killiney Beach and White Rock, necessitating the issue of a prohibition notice at both sites in line with HSE guidance. DLR engaged with both the EPA and HSE prior to the erection of such notices. Resolution is dependent on the receipt of improved water quality results within the thresholds of the HSE guidance.”
When asked could this incident have been prevented they said: “We have engaged our colleagues in Water & Drainage and there is currently no known overflows from the drainage network that coincided with this incident.”
Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council were also asked about the reports of the notice not being put up swiftly enough to warn swimmers in which they responded: “The results were issued on the afternoon of June 5th, with the notices erected at the relevant locations that same day.”
Irish Water were contacted for comment but said it was a matter for Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.
There is currently no date as to when the beaches will be safe again and swimmers are advised to keep an eye online for updates at beaches.ie.
“The water quality at Killiney had been consistently excellent over the past few years so this is disappointing so early in the season,” said Ian Diamond, Coastal Awards Manager with An Taisce’s Environmental Education.
The Blue Flag and Green Coast Award sites for 2021 were announced on May 25 last via a virtual awards ceremony between An Taisce Education Unit, local authorities, marina operators and Clean Coasts’ groups who volunteer at the beaches receiving the award this year
The Burrow, Sutton and Portmarnock in Fingal retained their Green Coast Awards this year also with Rush South beach picking up the Green Flag Award for the first time.
The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised eco-labels which originated in France in 1985 when French coastal Local Authorities achieved the status for compliance with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria.
See www.beaches.ie for updated results of water quality testing.