Youghal strand faces closure over ‘very poor e.coli results’

A seaside town in Cork has been dealt a severe blow as its main strand looks set to be shut to swimmers next summer over water safety concerns.

Word that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to advise Cork County Council to close Youghal’s Front Strand due to “very poor e.coli results” will be “devastating” for the town’s tourism, according to one local councillor.

Speaking after a report on bathing water quality was circulated at the council’s Southern Division meeting yesterday, Cllr Aaron O’Sullivan (FF) said that he hoped a sensible solution could be found that would prevent the closure of the popular swimming spot.

The report on the results of bathing waters for the 2014 season divided Cork’s swimming waters into four categories: excellent; good; sufficient; and poor. The report confirmed that Cadogan’s Strand in Schull will be classed as “poor” for 2015. It also said it is anticipated Youghal’s Front Strand would be accorded the same classification.

“Subject to advice from the EPA, it is anticipated Cork County Council will be obliged to close Youghal Front Strand for bathing, for the 2015 season (June 1 to September 15 2015) and put in place ‘no swim signs’,” the report said.

The classifications are based on the assessment of water quality over a four-year period, and in Youghal’s case, very poor results in 2012 on top of raised e.coli results in 2011, 2013, and this year threaten the closure next year. This, however, means that if the water quality improves in 2015, the Front Strand can reopen to swimmers in 2016.

The report cited the discharge from untreated wastewater and agricultural run-off from the Blackwater River catchment area as the causes of the high e.coli readings.

Cllr O’Sullivan said the decision to close the strand was the “nuclear option” that he hoped could be avoided. “This will be devastating for Youghal if it goes ahead and has to be looked upon as the nuclear option. There has to be more practical means of dealing with it, and I’ll be working to see if we can secure such a solution,” he said.

The report had better news for other popular Cork swimming spots, with Barleycove, Garrettstown, Garrylucas, Inchydoney, Owenahincha, Redbarn, and Tragumna expected to attain “excellent” status and eligibility to apply for or retain Blue Flags for 2015.

Ballyrisode, Gallycove, Garinish, Inch, Oysterhaven, Ring, Rocky Bay, Shanagarry, and Sheep’s Head are also anticipated to be classed as excellent for 2015, and will be eligible to apply for Green Coast Awards.

Coolmaine, Garryvoe, and the Warren will obtain “good” status while Fountainstown and Youghal Claycastle are expected to secure “sufficient” status.

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