Environment Agency issues pollution warning

John Hooks


John Hooks



INDUSTRY,  landowners and farmers are being urged to take extra care during the summer months to protect our water from pollution.

Following the major fish kill on the River Callan in Armagh three weeks ago, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has warned that lower water levels and warmer temperatures means our waterways and wildlife are more susceptible to pollution.

Tim Irwin, Head of NIEA’s Water Management Unit said: “Every living thing depends on water. It is a precious resource that is fundamental for our health, our environment and economy.

“There are still too many water pollution incidents in Northern Ireland that cause damage to our environment and to our wildlife. We all have a duty to protect this essential asset and our landowners, farmers and industry must take extra precautions during the warmer months to ensure that pollutants are not allowed to escape into our freshwater, groundwater or marine environments.”

Mr Irwin explained that rivers are particularly vulnerable because warmer water temperatures means less oxygen is capable of being dissolved within the river water.

“Less oxygen combined with reduced water volume make our rivers more susceptible to the impacts of pollution. If released into a watercourse, organic substances such as slurry, silage or sewage effluent exert an oxygen demand and deplete the oxygen supply, causing the suffocation of fish and other aquatic animals. Water is a valuable and precious asset and we should treat it as such,” he added.

During the recent fish kill on the Callan a local angler told the Gazette the fish were jumping onto the bank in efforts to get oxygen.

Approximately 1000 brown trout and over 100 salmon were killed as a major investigation into the incident continues.

“The fish were actually jumping out of the river onto the bank, flapping about for air and then going back into the water,” the local angler who was first on the scene told the Gazette.

The local man, who did not wish to be named, said he has been fishing on the river for many years but can’t recall an incident as serious as this one.

“When I was a young boy you would have had flax water run into the river from the linen industry and this also caused fish kills. But there has been nothing of this nature along the River Callan for years, on Tuesday night it looked as though the the oxygen had been stripped from the river and the fish couldn’t breathe.”

If you have any concerns about water pollution in your local area or want to report a water pollution incident, you can contact the NIEA water pollution hotline on 0800 807 060. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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