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Thursday 14 December 2017

How a snail is blocking works on a water treatment plant in Sligo

Lough Talt
Lough Talt
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

EU laws protecting rare species of cold-water fish, snails and vegetation are blocking water treatment works in Sligo, it has been claimed.

Sligo County Council has been extracting water from Lough Talt,  located between the villages of Tubbercurry, Aclare and Bunnyconnellan, to serve over 10,000 people in west Sligo for the past 40 years.

However, recent attempts by Irish Water to carry out improvements to the domestic water scheme have been prevented as the lake is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to sensitive lake species that reside on the foreshore - including the Arctic Charr, rare snail vertigo geyeri and the Oak Fern.

"EU and Government red tape on SACs and the Habitats Directive is preventing Irish Water from carrying out essential remedial works on the water supply currently being extracted from Lough Talt.

"The water supply is currently receiving minimal treatment and the supply in general is in danger of failing altogether which has serious implications for the health of those served by the scheme," said TD Michael Fitzmaurice. 

Irish Water recently applied to Sligo County Council for a new treatment plant for this scheme but their application was rejected by An Bord Pleanala.  "Irish Water can only continue to supply poorly treated water, the safety of which they cannot guarantee," said the Roscommon-Galway TD. A spokesperson for Irish Water confirmed that planning permission for the new plant was refused on April 18 due to the SAC.

"Irish Water is reviewing the decision by An Bord Pleanala in relation to the proposed drinking water treatment plant at Lough Talt in light of the overall need to provide a safe secure long term drinking water supply for 10,000 customers in that area," said the spokesperson. Midlands North West MEP Luke Flanagan and MEP Marian Harkin have also raised the issue with the EU Environment Commission in Brussels.

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