POPULAR Carrowmore Beach, which attracts surfers in big numbers, is to lose its Blue Flag status.
CARRAMORE and Clare Island beaches have lost their Blue Flag status for 2022, reducing the number of Blue Flag beaches in Mayo to nine.
A meeting of Mayo County Council’s Environmental SPC heard that the beaches were to lose their Blue Flags after they failed to meet the minimum water-quality standards.
The Blue Flag is an international award recognising superior beach and water quality. A report by Mayo County Council revealed that the two beaches do not meet the bathing water standards required to obtain the award.
Samples of the bathing water around Carrowmore Beach were taken on 13 occasions during 2021, and elevated levels of pollution were detected on four occasions. The report stated that the possible causes included diffuse pollution from agriculture and septic tanks and discharges from the storm water overflow associated with Louisburgh Waste Water Treatment Plant.
Part 8 planning permission is to be brought forward later this year to construct new facilities for water-based activities at Carramore and Keel beaches.
In Clare Island, elevated pollution was detected in one of the samples taken at the beach. Domestic wastewater treatment and agricultural pollution were attributed as causes.
Eleven of Mayo’s bathing waters were classified being of ‘excellent’ quality, while four were classified as being of ‘good’ quality. Beaches classed as ‘excellent’ can qualify for either Blue Flag or Green Coast status.
Old Head and Bertra beaches, which had held Blue Flag status a few years ago, also failed to meet the Blue Flag water quality standards.
Last year, a ‘no swim’ notice was put in place a Bertra beach for four days due to the elevated levels of EColi bacteria in the water.
Mayo County Council’s Head of Environment Martin Keating outlined a number of actions that the council is planning to take to address the water quality at Clare Island, Carramore, and Bertra and Old Head beaches. He said the council had assigned an experienced full-time member of staff to deal with the issue.
An additional €50,000 has been allocated by Westport-Belmullet and Ballina Municipal Districts to provide resources for beaches.
Temporary portable toilets have been installed on Bertra beach to replace the existing toilet facilities, which Mr Keating described as ‘quite old’.
Westport-based councillor Peter Flynn said that the whole of Mayo would suffer from the loss of the two Blue Flag beaches
“It’s not so long ago that we had 13 Blue Flag beaches in our county, and we’re down to nine now, which is really worrying,” he said.
“If you’re in Louisburgh in a holiday home today, the nearest Blue Flag will be in Mulranny.
That is really not a good news story to be telling.”
Other councillors expressed similar concerns, citing the knock-on affect on tourism in the county.
SPC Cathaoirleach Cllr Blackie Gavin welcomed the extra resources to address the issue but urged that toilet facilities be upgraded quickly at Bertra Beach.
Mr Keating could not guarantee when the beaches’ Blue Flag status would be restored but said Clare Island and Carramore could potentially regain their status in two seasons.