THE overflow of a wastewater treatment plant resulted in children swimming in raw sewage at The Warren beach in Rosscarbery.
Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard said as soon as the authorities became aware of the problem on Sunday, the Red Flag prohibiting bathing was raised.
‘The Warren,’ he said, ‘is one of the most idyllic and scenic spots we have in Cork county, and to have it closed because of a raw sewage leak is not only a danger to public health, it also damages the West Cork brand.’
Senator Lombard acknowledged that Rosscarbery lost its Blue Flag status last year due to water quality issues.
He said he believes this problem happened overnight on Saturday when the combined Owenahincha and Rosscarbery septic tank overflowed.
‘It has been suggested that the leak was caused by a broken pipe,’ said the senator, ‘but I have it on good authority that it was an overflow situation due to the increase in population of both locations during the summer months.’
He said locals are furious that a planned upgrade of the wastewater treatment facilities has not been carried out and he called Irish Water to prioritise it for an immediate upgrade.
‘This situation,’ he added, ‘is too serious to allow slide any longer. The Warren is one of our most famous beaches and it was like a scene from Jaws on Sunday evening – the beach was thronged but there was no one in the water.’
A spokesperson for Irish Water said: ‘It is unknown at this time as to the source of this public health risk, however, Irish Water and Cork County Council are investigating the matter.’
Cork County Council said this week that red lifeguard flags were raised at the beach on Sunday morning and a prohibition notice was posted on the beach noticeboard due to bathing water quality concerns. ‘Cork County Council is awaiting microbiological results from samples taken from the bathing water and will be consulting with the HSE once those approved results are available,’ said a spokesperson. ‘The prohibition notice remains in place until after that consultation. There is no confirmed cause of the contamination, as yet.’