Wednesday 21 March 2018

EPA report offers mixed news on Cork water quality

Tadhg Evans

Cork's waters are among the cleanest in the country - but the majority of its estuaries are failing to meet their water quality targets, as are eight of the county's 11 lakes.

That's according to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Agency's Water Quality in Ireland 2010-2015 report released this week.

The publication reported positively on the quality of the county's rivers, with 75 per cent of Cork rivers classified at either High or Good status, well ahead of the national average. The best water quality was to be found on the Beara and Mizzen peninsulas, where 95 per cent of rivers qualified for one of the top two categories. Of the country's 21 pristine river bodies, three are in Cork alone.

There was a decline to be seen in North and East Cork though, with 35 per cent of the Blackwater Catchment's rivers classified as no better than moderate.

The majority of Cork's coastal waters are of high or good quality, but most of the county's estuaries are failing due to excessive amounts of seaweed or sea lettuce. Loadings of nutrients to the sea have dropped in recent years, but loadings of nitrogen and phosphorus from the Blackwater and Bandon rivers have increased.

The eight Cork lakes failing to meet requirements are in the Bandon and Lee catchments and are failing due to high levels of algae resulting from high nutrient concentrations.

"Within the Cork area the picture is comparable to the national trend, with some improvements and dis-improvements seen. ," Emily Williamson of the EPA said. "In terms of solutions, the EPA has been gathering evidence on water quality and likely causes of problems to help various groups."