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Patrick Blake of Liscannor Harbour Amenity Organisation.

Liscannor ‘geyser’ of sewage

A ‘geyser’ of raw sewage was spotted gushing from a sewer pipe in a North Clare seaside village last week.
The incident  happened at Liscannor on the Wild Atlantic Way on Wednesday and according to locals, the sewerage scheme in the area is so bad that it gets blocked up “about once every two weeks”.
Patrick Blake of Liscannor Harbour Amenity Organisation described the scene in the seaside village on Wednesday morning.
“When we saw the sewage geyser first, it was 20 feet high. It was around 11 o’clock and it took us about 20 minutes or a half an hour to get someone to take a photograph of it and, by that stage, it had gone down to about 10 or 11 feet,” he explained.
“There was a group of people there in white coats and they said they were agents for Irish Water,” he continued.
When contacted by The Clare Champion, a spokesperson for Irish Water stated that the company was unblocking pipes in the area at the time.
“An outfall pipe at this location became partially blocked in recent weeks from debris and stones, which caused an overflow from a manhole cover adjacent to the Old Boathouse at Liscannor Pier. The pipe was unblocked on August 6 and again on August 12 and the area was jetted and washed down on August 13,” the spokesperson stated.
“Debris is being removed from this pipe on an ongoing basis through an existing break in the pipe that may have occurred during a storm in 2014. The operation of this outfall is being maintained by Clare County Council, acting on behalf of Irish Water and the current situation is being monitored daily.”
The statement from the utility added that “no action is being taken by Irish Water or anyone working on behalf of Irish Water to break sewage outfall pipes at Liscannor”.
Mr Blake believes the broken pipe poses a risk to children who don’t know what it is and also that the flow of untreated sewage into the bay gives a negative impression of the area.
“The sewage is now going from a septic tank at the shore directly into the sea. Tourists cannot believe that this is happening in 2015. I spoke to tourists lately and they cannot believe that they are on the Wild Atlantic Way and this is happening,” he said.
“People are walking on this pipe. I have even seen a family with children actually playing on the pipe that is burst. There are people who are not aware of the seriousness of the problem,” he added.
“I don’t like talking about this,” he said, “but I love my area and I want to see this problem solved”.
According to Mr Blake, the people of Liscannor have needed a new sewerage scheme for more than two decades and Irish Water acknowledges that there is currently no wastewater treatment there.
“Twenty years ago, Clare County Council said that the septic tank at the harbour in Liscannor was overburdened but then about five years ago, in their wisdom, they decided to connect 50 houses to it that were already connected to a treatment plant that became defunct,” Mr Blake claimed.
“On a regular basis the whole system gets blocked and we have watched that happen continuously. In the last five years or so, Clare County Council have had to come along and blow out the system.”
Mr Blake continued, “We would see it blocked about every two weeks, especially from May until September. The sewage backs up into houses and restaurants and to everywhere connected to it. It causes a very bad smell,” he said.
Irish Water has completed an assessment of tenders and expects to award a contract in September for a design study in Liscannor. According to the utility, that study will look at possible solutions for the upgrade of wastewater infrastructure.
In the meantime, it said it is investigating “the possibility of repairing the broken outfall pipe at Liscannor until a permanent system is in place”.
The company also pointed out that the work carried out on the pipe at Liscannor last week did not cause E-coli levels to rise above the allowed limits at the nearby Blue Flag Lahinch beach, stating, “The most recent water quality results, taken on August 10 at Lahinch, were well within the required limits for bathing water quality and a further sample collected on August 13 was also well within allowable limits for E-coli bacteria”.
Mr Blake continued, “We would see it blocked about every two weeks, especially from May until September. The sewage backs up into houses and restaurants and to everywhere connected to it. It causes a very bad smell,” he said.
Irish Water has completed an assessment of tenders and expects to award a contract in September for a design study in Liscannor. According to the utility, that study will look at possible solutions for the upgrade of wastewater infrastructure.
In the meantime, it said it is investigating “the possibility of repairing the broken outfall pipe at Liscannor until a permanent system is in place”.
The company also pointed out that the work carried out on the pipe at Liscannor last week did not cause E-coli levels to rise above the allowed limits at the nearby Blue Flag Lahinch beach, stating, “The most recent water quality results, taken on August 10 at Lahinch, were well within the required limits for bathing water quality and a further sample collected on August 13 was also well within allowable limits for E-coli bacteria”.

By Nicola Corless

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