A long term Swimming Ban has been imposed at Clifden Beach due to persistent poor water quality results in recent years.
The Environmental Protection Agency has instructed the county council to remove Clifden Beach from its list of designated beaches this year.
This comes as a result of water quality testing over the past five years, where Clifden received a ‘Poor’ rating from the EPA from 2016 to 2020.
Water samples were taken from Clifden Beach on 46 occasions between 2016 and 2020, according to beaches.ie, which is maintained by the EPA.
However, of those 31 returned an ‘Excellent’ quality result, 4 received a ‘Good’ result, 3 were marked ‘Sufficient’, and 8 came back with a ‘Poor’ result.
The county council has said that signage will now be erected at the beach with a Do No Swim notice, and that the water quality will continue to be monitored, with the notice to be removed if results change.
“Pleased note that Galway County Council has applied for the classification of a new bathing area, Aillebrack/Silverhill Beach for the 2021 bathing season in lieu of Clifden Beach,” a statement from the county council said.
“Aillebrack/Silverhill is a beautiful sandy beach located on the Ballyconneely Peninsula. The beach is located approximately 5 km west of the village of Ballyconneely and 14 km south of Clifden Town.
“It has been awarded a Green Coast Award for many years in recognition of its excellent water quality and community involvement in the management of the area.”
In relation to the poor water quality results seen at Clifden Beach, the county council said that a new treatment plant for the town was completed in 2015, and fully operational by 2018.
However, while there have been significant upgrade works to the local network to reduce surface water discharge to the Owenglen River and bay, there is only one remaining storm water overflow, which is located at the treatment plant.
“Risk assessments carried out as part of the development of a Management Plan for the bathing area indicate that this storm water overflow may continue to pose a risk to the bathing area.”
“Irish Water have a working group reviewing this issue at present and are working with the EPA in relation to regularisation of the outfall. Galway County Council will continue to engage with Irish Water in relation to this issue.”
“Other potential sources of pollution include discharges from septic tanks in the area. Galway County Council will continue to follow up in relation to any issues identified that may pose a risk to the bathing area.”