One of Ireland’s premier tourist beaches, Lahinch, faces a threat to its environment and business after waste water from a septic tank in nearby Liscannor was purposely released into a local bay.
A group of men in protective clothing were reportedly forced to sever a sewerage pipe, allowing a geyser of material to flow into Liscannor Bay. The village is just 2km from the Blue Flag beach Lahinch.
The process, it was claimed, is being undertaken on a semi-regular basis by agents of Irish Water. The pipes are broken to relieve pressure on Liscannor’s outdated sewage system, preventing raw sewage from backing up into the village.
Irish Water declined to comment on the process but did confirm it was currently seeking to develop a new sewage treatment facility for Liscannor.
According to Patrick Blake of the Liscannor Harbour Committee, the pressure on the system was so great that waste material shot 6m into the air when the pipe was broken.
Locals have been campaigning for a new sewage treatment system for more than 20 years. However, the problem has become more acute in recent years because of an increase in the local population.
“This problem has gone totally out of control,” said Mr Blake. “Fifty new houses were connected to this system which was already completely over-burdened, and that has brought this situation to a head.
“The septic tank is located on the shoreline adjacent to the harbour. This is an ongoing problem. This is raw sewerage being let out.
“The bigger difficulty is Lahinch is just east of Liscannor and all of this is flowing in twice a day with the incoming tide. This will put the blue flag, the surfing, the huge tourism industry at Lahinch in trouble and we don’t want to be responsible for that.
As you can imagine, kids and people with leisure boats use this area. Are we going to wait until someone has a cut on their hand and washes their hands in this water? Then we have a problem.”
Irish Water declined to answer specific questions about the process of purposely breaking sewer pipes in Liscannor, but did say a study will be carried out later this year.
“Irish Water has completed assessment of tenders and intends to award a contract in September for a design study on a number of areas where there is currently no treatment. Liscannor is one of the areas that will be included in this study,” said a spokesperson.
“The study will look at possible solutions for the upgrade of waste water infrastructure in those areas and the programme for completion of any upgrade works will depend on the outcome of the study.”
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