CORK/KERRY: Council defends quality of bathing water

Cork County Council has defended the quality of its coastal bathing water, blaming a more stringent marking criteria and the wettest summer for 50 years on the loss of Blue Flag status on four beaches.

Kerry County Council, meanwhile, expressed its delight at retaining 12 Blue Flags but conceded it was concerned about the new marking procedures. Officials plan to speak to the awards’ coordinators An Taisce.

Cork lost flags at Garryvoe, Garretstown, Barleycove and Red Barn beach in Youghal.

Five were retained at Garrylucas in Ballinspittle, Inchydoney at Clonakilty, Owenahincha and The Warren near Rosscarbery and Tragumna near Skibbereen.

Royal Cork Yacht Club marina was a newly awarded Blue Flag winner in the marina section.

A council spokesman said last summer was the wettest since 1962 and resulted in animal sewage washing off the land. This caused E-coli build-up in the sea resulting in a number of beaches being closed to swimmers last Aug.

“The microbiological standards of the 2006 EU directive are almost twice as strict as the 1976 directive band representing a lowering of the risk threshold for bathers with the more stringent category of ‘excellent’ water quality being applied,” a council spokesman said.

He added that apart from the unusual pollution levels caused by last year’s weather, it doesn’t take a lot to breach standards.

He said less civic-minded people who let their dogs foul beaches or those who bury soiled nappies in the sand were adding to the pollution problem.

Ballybunion North beach in Kerry lost its Blue Flag status also.

The county council’s director of environment Oliver Ring said Ballybunion North beach had “only just missed out”. He said the council would be discussing the matter with the Blue Flag organisers.

Kerry county mayor Cllr Terry O’Brien said: “We are delighted to have retained 12 Blue Flags given the hugely difficult weather conditions over the past year.”

He said credit must be paid to council staff and the local communities for their efforts in keeping up the high standards necessary.

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