BARLEYCOVE beach has been given the all-clear for bathing after a recent sample said it had returned to its former ‘excellent’ water quality.
The popular Mizen Head beach was effectively closed for three days after it failed an E coli test on Monday last.
But a new sample, taken yesterday (Thursday) came up trumps last night, and the public notices restricting bathing, were taken down.
This morning, Cork County Council issued the following statement: ‘Following advice from the HSE, the Advisory Notice placed at Barleycove beach on the 12th June ‘18 due to elevated levels of bacteria, has been removed. Updated water quality results from samples taken on the 12th June indicate water quality at this bathing water has returned to excellent quality.’
This week, the Council asked dog owners to refrain from letting their animals enter the water, due to the high amounts of bacteria that dog urine contains. A water sample taken on Monday at the height of the sunny spell, found faecal contamination from an unknown source but most likely caused by dogs, birds and humans.
The most common symptoms of E coli are stomach pain and diarrhoea, and to reduce the risk of illness, the Council notice advised beach users not to swim at the popular beach – one of Cork’s most popular.
However, local businessman Dermot O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan’s Bar in Crookhaven blasted the restrictions at the Blue Flag beach as ‘an outrage’. ‘I am not a scientist,’ said Mr O’Sullivan, ‘but this is totally bizarre. Barleycove is on the Atlantic Ocean, there are tides there twice a day, so it would be impossible that there would be E coli there.’
Mr O’Sullivan said he knows there are two lakes nearby, which cattle use, and a stream that flows down to the eastern side of the beach so ‘if they took a sample in the stream and said there was cow s*** in it, I would understand.’ A warning notice was issued once before – in 2012 – during a particularly wet summer that impacted water quality at a number of beaches throughout the county.
A Council spokesperson said the increased E coli could not be attributed to cattle or the run-off from agricultural land, either.
‘This,’ she said, ‘is down to dogs, birds and humans. The E coli levels from them can cause a reading to spike.’ As a result, the Council has asked dog owners not to let their pets in the water because one dog’s urine could result in an additional 500,000 E coli.
Margaret Kenneally, of the family-run business Barleycove Holiday Park, told The Southern Star: ‘This doesn’t happen very often, but obviously our business and other businesses in the area are weather-dependant and can be affected. ‘The beach is the big draw here. It is something that we have to protect. We have to make sure that it is there for everyone to enjoy.’