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Popular beaches could lose Blue Flag status


IMPLICATIONS The loss of Blue Flag status could have serious implications for Carrowmore Beach near Louisburgh.

Mayo County Council report shows water quality not to high enough standard on well-known beaches

CLARE Island and Carrowmore beaches could lose their Blue Flag status in 2022 after testing of the bathing water has found it was not of the standard required.
Clare Island beach and Carrowmore beach, near Louisburgh, were two of eleven Blue Flag beaches in Mayo in 2021 but they look set to lose out on the prestigious status for the 2022 bathing season.
A report by Mayo County Council revealed that the two beaches, along with Old Head beach in Louisburgh, and Bertra beach near Westport, do not meet the bathing water status required to qualify for Blue Flag status.
The Blue Flag is an international award that recognises beach excellence and water quality.
Samples of the bathing water around Carrowmore Beach were taken on 13 occasions during 2021 and elevated results were detected on four occasions. The report stated that the possible causes for the elevated samples were diffuse pollution from agriculture and septic tanks and discharges from the storm water overflow associated with Louisburgh Waste Water Treatment Plant.
Carrowmore is considered one of the top beaches in Mayo and last year Mayo County Council and Fáilte Ireland chose it as one of only two beaches in Mayo to develop an all-weather centre. 
Keel beach on Achill Island was the second beach chosen and each was to be allocated €650,000 to develop each centre. One of the main criteria for choosing Carrowmore at the time was because of its Blue Flag status.
In relation to Clare Island, ten samples were taken and elevated results were detected in one routine sample. The possible causes suggested in the report are diffuse pollution from agriculture and domestic wastewater treatment systems which ‘need to be managed’.

‘Good Status’
As a result of the elevated levels in the samples, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded both Clare Island and Carrowmore with ‘Good Status’ bathing water when ‘Excellent Status’ is required for a Blue Flag beach.
The loss of the Blue Flag status will be a huge blow to both communities ahead of the busy summer tourist season and will mean that no beach along the south end of Clew Bay will have a Blue Flag.
Bertra beach lost its Blue Flag status in 2021 and it had been hoped that it would regain it again in 2022. However last July a ‘Do Not Swim’ notice was placed on the beach for four days after ‘slightly’ elevated results were noted on four occasions which put paid to any chances it would obtain an excellent bathing status.
The possible causes of the elevated levels were put down to diffuse pollution from agriculture, public and domestic wastewater treatment systems, trade effluent discharges and dog fouling. The wastewater treatment system serving the public toilets at the bathing area was assessed in 2021 and was identified as a risk.
Old Head beach outside Louisburgh, which is one of the most popular beaches in the county, lost its status in 2013 and once again the bathing water does not meet the excellent status.
As a result of the failure of the beaches to meet the excellent status for Blue Flag beaches, Mayo County Council has nominated only nine beaches for Blue Flag status in 2022.
Five beaches are on Achill Island – Keel, Keem, Dooega, Dugort and the Golden Strand - , Mulranny beach, Elly Bay and Mullaghroe beaches in Erris and Ross beach in Killala. The announcement of the 2022 Blue Flag beaches is expected to be announced next month.

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