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  • Michelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

DfI Rivers address build up of sand and debris at Lough Neagh quays




Low water levels and the build up of sand and debris at quays on Lough Neagh, particularly in the Moortown and Ardboe areas are currently being addressed, according to DfI Rivers.


During February’s meeting of Mid Ulster District Council’s environment committee, members tasked officers with writing to the Department of Infrastructure about problems facing those who fish on Lough Neagh.



In the letter sent by the council’s deputy chief executive and strategic director of environment, Anne-Marie Campbell to the Department on February 18, Ms Cambell noted the low water levels on the Lough and the build up of sand and debris in the Moortwon and Ardboe areas and asked what was being done to address the issue.


“I understand there has historically been an agreement in place to dig out the quays and assist with access, ” said Ms Campbell.


“However, in recent years this does not appear to be happening. As a result, access to Lough Neagh for fishermen is problematic.”



In response dated March 1, DfI Rivers area engineer Ruairi Boylan acknowledged the problems did exist but told Ms Campbell, work to address the situation is well under way.


“During the pandemic, most silt removal operations were suspended due to the need for social distancing measures as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions,” he said.


“However, DfI Rivers has now put in place an agreed operating procedure to manage these health and safety requirements and maintenance of the Lough Neagh Quays has now recommenced.



“Recent problems experienced by fishermen on Lough Neagh were compounded by low water levels after a software update recently caused two gauging stations to produce false readings that led to the average water level of the Lough appearing to remain at a static level.


“As a result, the water level dropped approximately 100mm below the statutory minimum. This fault was fixed and the water levels rose quickly with the wet weather experienced in the latter part of February.


“The water levels are currently well above the statutory maximum and the sluice gates at Toome are fully open to lower the Lough level. Quay cleaning is ongoing and we hope to have many of the quays cleaned before low summer levels might cause further problems.”