Ban on bathing at south Dublin beaches extended to Monday

Dublin beaches again closed to swimmers following waste overflow at Ringsend

Following the significant rainfall last night, Irish Water  confirmed waste water overflows

Following the significant rainfall last night, Irish Water confirmed waste water overflows

 

The ban on bathing at beaches in south Dublin has been extended until Monday, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) has said.

Dublin’s main beaches have been shut down to swimmers for the fourth time this year following another wastewater overflow at the city’s treatment plant in Ringsend.

DLRCC said on Saturday it has taken the decision to extended the temporary prohibition notice for all bathing areas in its locality until 3pm on Monday due to waste water overflows from Irish Water’s treatment network.

The beaches covered by the ban are Seapoint, Sandycove, the Forty Foot, Killiney and Whiterock.

This decision was taken pending test results from Friday, and also as the weather forecast for the weekend is for more rain, which could lead to the possibility of more overflows.

“Testing of water quality was undertaken early Friday,” said a spokesman. “We will continue to assess the risk to water quality based on test results and information provided by Irish Water.

“Bathing water results will be published here. Water testing results are available approximately two days after sampling.”

The pollution problem, which has at times led to almost all of central and south Dublin’s bathing spots being closed, is because of the system’s inability to cope with a growing population, Irish Water says.

A major €400 million upgrade is currently underway but in the meantime residents and swimmers have been left “disgusted” by the latest incident, according to Green Party councillor Ossian Smyth.

“They are angry at the idea of sewage getting into the sea,” he said.

Dublin City Council added Dollymount beach to its list of “no bathing” zones on Friday, saying it would continue to monitor water quality before making a further statement on the matter.

A spokeswoman for the council said on Saturday that testing was continuing to take place.

Seasonal bans are already in place at Merrion and Sandymount beaches due to ongoing issues around bacterial levels in the water.

Most of the closures this year have occurred during the summer season, a further irritation to those who regularly use the sea, particularly at bathing areas along the south coast.

Overflows occur due to sudden and rapid rainy spells during which large amounts of water falls in a short period of time.

This “storm water” mixes with the network’s “wastewater” and runs into overflow tanks. However, when these tanks reach capacity their contents are vented into the sea at Poolbeg.

Testing of water quality is then undertaken, usually for a couple of days, during which time precautionary steps are taken in keeping people out of the sea.

Irish Water maintains that what is ultimately released into the environment is “heavily diluted” and already screened to remove debris.

The problem of overflows may escalate this weekend as the forecast is for a continuation of stormy weather, possibly with more thundery downpours and flash flooding.

Mr Smyth said it was announced on Thursday that “because there was a forecast for heavy rain that today might be a bad day for a swim (because) there might be polluted water.

“I think that’s a first. Instead of telling you after the fact they are now telling you beforehand and I think that’s a good thing by the council.”

DLRCC has had cause to close some or all of its beaches on four occasions - in February, twice in June and this weekend. Dublin City Council has done so twice in June and this weekend, as well as the seasonal closure already in place at two sites.

Irish Water reports incidents of discharge and overflow to the Environmental Protection Agency. In the first half of this year there were seven incidents of storm water overflow at Ringsend between March and August.

Once complete, the ongoing upgrade at Ringsend means the capacity of its overflow tanks will be increased and such incidents “will be fewer in number although in extreme weather conditions they could still occur,” the agency said.

It apologised for the disruption but moved to reassure the public “that there should be no lasting effects on bathing waters. The tide will wash out the spill and the salt water and sunlight acts to clean the water.”

When the upgrade is complete in 2025, the Ringsend plant will be able to treat wastewater for a population equivalent of up to 2.4 million people, it said.