Two of Kerry's blue flag beaches closed due to high levels of e.coli

Two of Kerry's blue flag beaches closed due to high levels of e.coli

Swimming at Ballybunion in Co. Kerry, one of the south-west's foremost seaside resorts, has been placed off-limits after high levels of e.coli associated with animal and human faeces, or a combination, showed up on Monday.

Two beaches - Ballybunion North and Ballybunion South, both blue flag, are involved and this is the fourth time this summer Kerry has seen no-bathing signs erected on beaches all along its coastline from Waterville in the South to Cromane in Dingle Bay.

It is the first time this summer the county's northern beaches have prohibitions because of the threat posed by the dangerous bacteria associated with the intestines of animals and humans.

All of the notices are associated with weather events this summer, particularly, high levels of rain flushing bacteria from land and holding tanks and other sources into the sea.

In Waterville, in July a pumping station failed after struck by lightning during a thunderstorm and there were fears the water might be contaminated.

Kerry County Council insists that what is occurring this summer is normal at times of high rainfall, saying the "impact of catchments at times of high rainfall on bathing water quality is a common occurrence at this time of year associated with heavy rainfall".

In a statement, Kerry County Council said it carries out testing of designated bathing waters during the bathing season from June to September.

“The bathing waters at our beaches in Kerry can be impacted by heavy rainfall in the catchments which can then collect and deposit bacteria mainly from animal faeces at the river outflows close to our beaches.

"In instances where the levels of bacteria arising from testing exceed stated levels in the bathing water regulations we are obliged by the HSE to erect bathing notices to protect public health.”

The most recent tests on water quality taken at the two Ballybunion beaches on Monday last indicated an elevated level of ecoli.

This was being attributed to “bacterial input from the catchment” associated with the very high rainfall on Saturday last, the council said.

The Valentia Met station recorded 28.9 mm of rainfall that day. Further tests will be carried out and the notices lifted when the levels drop.

On August 3, Cromane beach fishing harbour, an area serving mussels, and other fish farms in the Castlemaine harbour area at the eastern extreme of Dingle Bay was placed off-limits and in late July swimming at two beaches in south Kerry, Waterville and Inny, was also prohibited.


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