It’s hoped that a bathing ban that forced the cancellation of a Christmas Swim in Co Clare last December will be lifted before the summer bathing season begins.
The ‘Do Not Swim’ noticed was issued on December 21st last following an emergency discharge of storm water into the sea via Kilkee beach.
This emergency discharge occurred due to a failure in an operational safety device at the Kilkee pumping station, combined with heavy rainfall in the area at that time.
Irish Water has now confirmed that contractors have been appointed to carry out repair and upgrade works to the Kilkee wastewater pumping station, with all works on site due to be completed within the next two months, in time for the start of the 2017 bathing period.
“Since then, Irish Water has commissioned the manufacture and installation of a new surge protection system to replace the one which failed in December. A specialist electrical contractor has been appointed to review all electrical issues at the pumping station and a number of other measures are also being put in place to allow for improved management at times where a large volume of storm water is entering the system,” Irish Water has said.
Work to install the new equipment at the pumping station will continue throughout March and April, with commissioning and optimisation due to be complete by mid-May.
“In the interim, the Do Not Swim notice, issued by Clare County Council, remains in place and users of Kilkee beach are advised not to swim or participate in other water sports in the area. Beach users should avoid swallowing or splashing water and wash hands before handling food,” a spokesman for the utility said.
Maurice Hourigan, Wastewater Lead with Irish Water, added: “Since this incident occurred at the end of December, resolving it has been a top priority project for Irish Water. We now hope to have completed this work by mid-May, ahead of the start of the 2017 bathing season.”
Kilkee businessman Johnny Redmond said: “I am delighted with the news regarding the upgrade of the equipment at the pump station here in Kilkee but not encouraged when words like “hope” to have works completed for the beginning of the bathing season.”
“The beautiful beach and clean waters here in Kilkee are of the utmost importance to the local business people and it is imperative that the pump station is up and running before the season starts as not to disrupt our already very short season.
Some of us are still getting over the disruption caused by the never ending works that took place after the storms of 2014,” Mr Redmond added.
Minister for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen has said he’s disappointed to learn that repair works will not be completed until Mid May.
“While I appreciate that Irish Water has been working on the issue since December and there is no quick solution, it is essential that there are no delays in the repairs process and that it is completed in the time line committed to,” said Minister Breen.