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  • Writer's pictureDonal McMahon (Local Democracy Reporter)

Ecological damage to Lough Neagh set to be “more severe” this summer – NI Water

Blue green algae in Lough Neagh

Ecological damage to Lough Neagh is set to be “more severe” this summer according to a council report by NI Water.

The government owned company addressed the environmental concerns at a special meeting of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council this week.

Pollutants mainly from the agricultural industry and sewage caused a massive growth last summer of blue-green algae in Lough Neagh. The water system provides much of Northern Ireland’s drinking water.

Lisburn North SDLP rep, Pat Catney said:

“I suppose it is on everyone’s lips and why I am putting the question to you about the algae that is affecting Lough Neagh.

“Maybe you could give us a clue or understanding as it looks like you are expecting worse situation come this summer.

“Hopefully you can address that and let us know what help you are getting from other agencies.”

About 460,000 homes across NI get their drinking water from the Lough, while wastewater and sewage is also pumped into Lough Neagh through 56 final effluent outfall pipes and 72 storm overflow pipes.

However, NI Water says they treat the water taken from Lough Neagh and that it is safe to drink.

NI Water head of investment management Dr Steve Blockwell replied:

“We are working with DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs) and NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) and we are involved in some working groups.

“We do believe or at least informed by DAERA that they expect the algae bloom to come back next year and there is a greater than 80% chance of it reoccurring and might be even more severe this summer.

“We have established five work streams internally of actions that we can put in place.

“I want to emphasis that we have a multi-barrier treatment system and filters so that the water is safe to drink.

“But I think for the environment we are expecting the algae to come back.”


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