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Brown sludge on Ilen ‘may be algae due to warm spell'

June 30th, 2018 11:56 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Cork County Council is investigating alleged reports of pollution at the Ilen River in Skibbereen.

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THE alleged pollution of the Ilen River – a river that is used in the training of members of Skibbereen’s world famous rowing club – is being investigated by the County Council. 

A spokesperson confirmed to The Southern Star: ‘Our team has visited the location on a number of occasions in recent weeks. Samples have been taken and the analysis results are awaited.’

The issue was highlighted locally by Fiona Hayes who posted photographs of the rust-coloured water on Facebook.

Photographs taken downstream from the Skibbereen Waste Water Treatment Plant at Coronea, and west of Skibbereen Rowing Club, show a sludgy substance on the surface of the water.

Mrs Hayes, who has been living at Mononagh near New Court for the last 25 years, said: ‘I have never seen the river as bad as this before.’

From time to time, she said there were problems with pollution but the incidence has increased dramatically – as much as four times in five days in recent weeks.

The homeowner has complained to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and they referred the issue to Irish Water.

In writing to the EPA, Mrs Hayes made the point: ‘This is 800-metres downstream from Skibbereen Rowing Club where many rowers – some of world class standard and some children learning to row – enter the water.’

She said they row right past her home and she is concerned for their health and well-being, as well as the interests of the shellfish farmers in the vicinity.

According to Irish Water, preliminary tests on the River Ilen, approximately 2km downstream of the Skibbereen Water Treatment Plant, show that there are no operational issues with the treatment plant and that all wastewater is being treated to the appropriate standards. 

Irish Water also said there are no operational issues with the pump station. 

Testing was subsequently carried out by Cork County Council and analysis determined that the material visible on the surface of the water is a naturally-occurring algae, which may be associated with the recent spell of warm weather, but further test results are pending.

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