Sunday 17 December 2017

Poor river quality raised by EPA report

Cllr Mark Dearey
Cllr Mark Dearey

Olivia Ryan

The poor ecological quality of rivers in the Louth and cross border area was raised in a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Latest findings showed that just 40% of the rivers in this area are of a 'satisfactory' status.

Analysis of the rivers which flow in this area, including Newry, the Fane, Glyde and Dee showed that only 16 had good ecological status, with 17 listed as poor.

The Castletown Estuary which flows into Dundalk was one of eight areas across the country which breached the 'salinity' related standard for phosphorus.

Dundalk councillor Mark Dearey responded to the report, saying that it raised 'real concerns' about how the cross border rivers network would be policed after Brexit.

'There are seven rivers which flow into Dundalk bay, some originating outside Louth, and indeed across the border.'

From the 'Big River' flowing through the Cooley Peninsula, which lost its 'pristine' status, to the Flurry river at Jonesboro which goes right through north Louth, he said the complex interlinking of cross border rivers made it 'all the more important' that environmental and water legislation is protected even after Northern Ireland is out of the EU post Brexit.

'I am very concerned that we are going to have a two tier legislative system, which will be all the more difficult to enforce.'

He welcomed the foundation of the Waters and Communities office, which he said had a specific focus on each region, and had compiled a map of the entire rivers network around Dundalk.

The loss of so many 'pristine' status rivers across the country has been raised nationally, and Cllr Dearey said he was aware that some agricultural practices were being highlighted as being a factor affecting river water quality.

'But we also need to look at forestry, after felling what is washed off into local rivers.'

He added that it was 'essential we look at land use, and also establish good planning and enforcement' to prevent the further downgrading of rivers.

The EPA report also highlighted that bathing beach waters in Louth were 'excellent'.

According to the report 'Bathing waters in County Louth continue to be of a very high quality, with few pollution sources having been identified.'

The Argus

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