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The Inagh River. Photograph by John Kelly.

Protest rally in support of Clare water quality

A protest rally highlighting the “dire situation” facing North Clare’s waterways will be held in Ennistymon next week with campaigners saying “The rivers of Clare cannot be used as toilets”.
The Save Our Rivers campaign was recently formed by a group of North Clare citizens who say they are “tired of the pollution, the fish kills and all the other forms of environmental destruction”.
Group spokesperson Denis Vaughan is urging members of the public to show their support at the rally which will be held on Saturday, September 9 at 2pm at the Ennistymon Area Office of Clare County Council.
According to Mr Vaughan there is a “clear need” for the campaign, explaining it comes after the recent high profile fish kill in the Ennistymon area in which thousands of fish died.
They are also highlighting concerns over untreated sewage being pumped into the sea and rivers in North Clare. “Lahinch Beach is frequently closed because of the presence of untreated sewage that gives rise to gastrointestinal sickness. We hear frequent reports about the local tap water being undrinkable. All of these events have shocked the good people of Clare. They will not accept that terrible destruction of the Banner,” he said.
Mr Vaughan is calling for the release of reports from investigations into the fish kills, saying this needs to be done “urgently”.
He has also described as “unacceptable that Uisce Éireann (Irish Water) and Clare County Council still monitor themselves. Their recent history proves that the system has failed. Multiple fish kills in Ennistymon are absolutely unacceptable. The rivers of Clare cannot be used as toilets.”
He continued, “We frequently hear about plans for new sewage treatment plants in these locations but, again, nothing happens. This situation cannot continue any longer. Clare must have clean water and proper sewerage.”
The group is demanding that Uisce Éireann and Clare County Council clean up the affected Tattons and Inagh rivers. “Basic reform is needed. We believe the local water treatment plants need to be monitored by an independent body. The state can afford these reforms because Ireland currently has a huge budget surplus. Part of this extra money should be spent on water and sewage systems.”
In a statement to The Clare Champion Uisce Éireann said the body are, “committed to eliminating raw sewage, providing a safe and reliable water supply, tackling leakage, protecting the environment and supporting the growth of homes and businesses in County Clare and across Ireland.”
The spokesperson said, “We operate within one of the strictest systems of regulation in the world and are continually monitoring water at every stage of its journey. We are also committed to ensuring efficient, modern systems that meet the needs of customers and an environment that is protected from the impacts of wastewater discharges.”
They outlined that Uisce Éireann continues to invest in Clare, pointing to the recent construction of a new wastewater treatment plant and associated infrastructure which has ended the discharge of raw sewage into Liscannor Bay.
“The €7m project has brought substantial benefits in the areas of health, the integrity of the environment and improved water quality for all. This significant investment by Uisce Éireann will also facilitate growth and development in the area while enhancing recreational waters for swimming, surfers, fishing, boating and sightseeing waters.
“This completed project in Liscannor illustrates Uisce Éireann’s unwavering commitment to eliminating raw sewage discharges in County Clare. We are delivering new infrastructure for five towns across the Banner County that will provide treatment for the equivalent of almost 20,000 people.
“As well as the project delivered in Liscannor, Uisce Éireann has also completed works this year on the Clarecastle Sewerage Scheme, to end the discharge of raw sewage into the River Fergus and Shannon Estuary from Clarecastle. In Kilrush, a new wastewater treatment plant is currently under construction, while new wastewater treatment plants in Kilkee and Ballyvaughan are at design stage. We will continue to engage with local communities as we progress these vital projects.”
The Clare Champion reached out to Clare County Council for comment however there was no response at the time of going to press.

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