LARNE Borough Council is to lobby NI Water for proper public sewage provision at Browns Bay.
A delegation of 15 residents attended a recent meeting of the local authority’s public services committee at which they and the NI Environment Agency were invited to make presentations after NIEA advised anyone in the area using a septic tank without a consent to discharge effluent that they would have to upgrade, at a cost of thousands of pounds.
Some 29 properties have received advisory letters and it emerged last week that the council, which owns the caravan park in the hamlet, may also be affected.
As reported in the Larne Times back in February, a water-quality test carried out at the popular tourist spot showed that the bathing water contained microbiological contamination.
NIEA set about exploring the possibility that sewage from septic tanks was contaminating the water, and discovered a number of septic tank systems serving homes in the Brown’s Bay area did not have a consent to discharge effluent, which is required under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
As a result, the Department of the Environment sent out letters to residents, advising them that they must apply for consent to discharge at their properties.
Richard Coey, from the NIEA water management unit, explained that Browns Bay is one of six beaches in Northern Ireland which meet current standards but are in danger of failing stricter microbacterial contamination levels to be introduced in 2015. The others are Ballygally, Waterfoot, Ballyholme, Ballwater and Newcastle.
Charged with meeting the EU requirements, NIEA had identified domestic septic tanks as a potential source of contamination, along with sewer overflows, waste water treatment works and agriculture.
Mr Coey conceded that the serving of advisory letters on residents could have been better handled. He added: “NIEA would like to work with all stakeholders to achieve a satisfactory resolution.”
On the proposal of Ald Roy Beggs, the committee resolved that the council should join with affected residents in making representation to NI Water for the provision of proper public sewage facilities in the Islandmagee area.