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Council issues public appeal as dry spell continues

The Water Services, Fire Service and Environment sections of Clare County Council have issued a joint public appeal after latest weather forecasts suggested a continuation of the present dry spell into next week.

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July 16, 2013 (FPRC) -- The need to conserve water, the heightened risk of forest fires, litter awareness at the County’s beaches, and the importance of water safety awareness are the key messages being issued by the local authority.

Clare Water Safety Officer Liam Griffin is reminding members of the public to be extra vigilant if taking part in water-based activities over the coming days.

He stated: “I would urge members of the public to observe notices on any beach or where they want to swim, and also observe the Lifeguard's rules and regulations regarding off limit swimming locations. Anyone who sees a water user in difficulty should summon help immediately. People should also be wary of the locations of ringbuoys.”

Mr. Griffin confirmed that lifeguards provide full-time cover during July and August at Spanish Point, Lahinch, Fanore, Bishops Quarter, Doolin, Whitestrand Miltown Malbay, Seafield, Whitestrand Doonbeg, Kilkee, Cappagh, Mountshannon and Ballycuggeran.

Water safety advice:
- Only swim at beaches and waterways that have lifeguards on duty and pay attention to the safety flags.
- Before going to sea check local weather conditions and tides in the area. Wear correctly maintained and fitting lifejackets that are suitable for the activity. Ensure your craft is fit for purpose.
- Under no circumstances should alcohol be consumed prior to entering the water.

Meanwhile, Clare Chief Fire Officer Adrian Kelly noted that the dry spell also presents a heightened risk of wildfires occurring.

He said: “As the current spell of weather is conducive to forest, bog and gorse fires, we would like to remind landowners that it is an offence under the Wildlife Act to burn growing vegetation between 1 March and 31 August in any year, on any land not then cultivated. The sad fact is that if this simple rule was adhered to, many costly and dangerous wildfires would be avoided.”

Mr. Kelly says the following measures should be observed:
- Landowners burning gorse, scrub, or vegetation must inform the Fire Service at least one day in advance on 999 or 112 providing details of the location, time and duration of burning.
- In addition, landowners burning within 1 mile of woodland must notify the local Garda Station and woodland owner in writing at least 7 days in advance.
- Where burning is to take place within a Special Area of Conservation or Natural Heritage Area, written consent must be sought in advance from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
- It is illegal to burn household or commercial/industrial waste, household green waste (e.g. hedging), electric cables for the recovery of copper, or to burn waste in bonfires.
- There is a temporary exemption until 1st January 2014 for waste generated by agricultural practices, but efforts must be first made to reduce, reuse, and recycle the waste and burning must only be considered as a final measure. Waste must be untreated and uncontaminated by other waste.

Clare County Council is also urging the record number of visitors to Clare’s main beaches to take responsibility for their rubbish by bringing it home with them. The Council has employed additional resources to deal with the increase in litter that has resulted from what it calls ‘unprecedented’ visitor numbers to beaches such as Kilkee, Lahinch and Spanish Point. The local authority has also installing additional, temporary bins along the length of the beach in an effort to minimise littering while litter wardens have been deployed to monitor littering activity.

According to Joan Tarmey, Clare Environmental Awareness Officer: “Clare's beaches are an incredible natural resource for locals and visitors alike, and we are delighted that so many people are enjoying them during this wonderful weather.”

She continued: “Clare County Council is appealing to all beach users around our coasts to take responsibility for their rubbish and to take it home with them, or alternatively deposit litter in the many bins provided. There has been a small increase in litter relative to the number of beach users. Issues include litter being jammed in between rocks, dumping of household waste as well as post-beach party waste such as broken glass and pizza boxes being left on the beach or promenade. We are appealing to the few who persist in littering or dumping to stop, or be faced with an on-the-spot litter fine of €150. There are up to four community/litter wardens monitoring the main beaches in the county. We applaud the thousands of beach users who respect our amazing beaches and enjoy them responsibly”.

“Significant resources are deployed at our busier beaches: bins span the promenades and are emptied 3-4 times a day; a team of staff along with a dedicated waste truck are on duty seven days a week from as early as 8am; and promenades and streets are swept every morning. Staff and volunteers are doing an incredible job to keep Clare litter-free and so are most people, given the unprecedented visitor numbers to our beaches. The message is simple – be a responsible beach user.” Ms Tarmey concluded.

Commenting on the subject of water conservation, the Council appealed to consumers to restrict their use of water to essential purposes only following a huge increase in demand for water since the dry spell began.

Paul Moroney, Senior Engineer said: “Conservation is being urged not because of a shortage of rainfall but due to the surge in demand for water. This becomes a problem where demand exceeds the amount of water being produced by the County’s public water supplies. Every reduction, no matter how small, will contribute to maintaining supplies and your cooperation is appreciated.”

The Local Authority says the following measures should be observed:
- Avoid washing cars as much as possible – use a bucket rather than a hose
- Don’t leave taps running
- Avoid watering lawns
- Don’t use a hose when washing down driveways, etc – use a bucket and brush
- Only run your washing machine or dishwasher when it has a full load
- Reduce the use of power showers – a power shower can use 125 litres of water in 5 minutes

Further water safety, litter awareness, forest fire, and water conservation advice is available from

Send an email to Mark Dunphy of Dunphy PR

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