Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
108. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the action his Department will take to address the water quality at Lilliput, County Westmeath which again has been found to be below standard. [26816/21]
I welcome the recent publication of the EPA’s Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 2020 report, and am pleased to see the continued improvements in the quality of our bathing waters highlighted in the report, especially those bathing waters that are meeting or exceeding the minimum water quality requirements. It is important to note that 96% of bathing waters met or exceeded the minimum required standard. This is up from 95% in 2019 and improvements in bathing water quality are welcome and necessary.
Excellent work is being carried out by local authorities and other stakeholders on the continued improvements in our bathing water quality. For both local and national tourism, it is important that the network of bathing waters is strengthened and enhanced. The reduction in poor bathing waters from 5 to 4 is also welcomed but it is clear that a lot of work must be undertaken by Local Authorities and Irish Water to ensure issues at these 4 poor bathing waters are remedied as soon as possible.
Lilliput, Lough Ennell has been classified as poor for the last three years and investigators have found that the main source of pollution affecting the bathing water is diffuse agriculture in the local catchment. Septic tanks discharges and birds are also a potential, but less likely, source of pollution.
Westmeath County Council is working with the Local Authorities Waters Programme (LAWPRO) to investigate and locate the causes of this pollution.
LAWPRO is a shared service working with local authorities and State agencies to develop and implement the River Basin Management Plan. Its work involves the assessment of water bodies to diagnose and help solve the issues affecting water quality. As part of the second River Basin Management Plan, 190 Priority Areas for Action were identified in which LAWPRO’s work is focused. This includes the Lough Ennell/Dysart Stream area in Westmeath.
I encourage all bathers to use the information on the dedicated www.beaches.ie website before going swimming, and to always follow the advice of the HSE and Department of Health in relation to social distancing protocols when you are at the beach.