Carraroe and District Regeneration Association
Draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022 -2027
Submission from Carraroe and District Regeneration Association
We are a Registered Charity established as a community group with the following main objects: The main object for which the body is established is the enhancement, development, and regeneration of the physical, social environment for the benefit of the entire community of Carraroe Co Sligo and its immediate environs. We will achieve this through the voluntary efforts of our association and by cooperating and working in partnership with Sligo County Council, Community Organisations, Clubs and Associations in the area. We as an organisation assist the community of Carraroe by administering a Text Alert Scheme, providing Defibrillators at Carraroe Community Centre and Carraroe Community Sports Complex We provide a Senior Alarm Scheme for eligible residents. We enter Carraroe in the Tidy Towns Competition which with volunteer effort, ensures we make our area a pleasant place to live and visit.
We are very conscious of the fact that Lough Gill Special Area of Conservation is within our Association catchment area and an intrinsic part of Sligo Bay Catchments area in context of the river Basin and also the Water Directives. We as a community group have over the past number of years become more aware of the need to ensure the quality of the water is up to current required standard. In fact, on the consultation for Leitrim recently a fisherman described Lough Gill as “Toxic” which on the night was not corrected and would be a serious concern to our community. Is it any wonder therefore that we are concerned in relation to the safety and prevention of pollution of Lough Gill which is the source of drinking water for in excess 25,000 population of Sligo Town and its environs?
With this in mind for the past number of years in co -operation with Local Waters Officer and our local National School have organised conducted education awareness trips to sample the streams. We also gave children the opportunity research and write essays, painting and identifying wildlife associated with Lough Gill and its environs.
We have joined with other groups on Zoom meetings around the issues and proposals for this draft plan and while we are aware of the issues, we do not feel equipped with the professional skills to assess the quality of our water both in Lough Gill and the streams flowing into Lough Gill which are illustrated on the map.
As Lough Gill is such an iconic feature of Sligo with its very rooted association to Yeats Lake Isle of Innisfree as well as the fact it is such a main provider of drinking water to Sligo Town it is difficult to understand why it is not the top priority list for LAC assessments. The current EPA assessment has it rated as moderate standard which as such a critical drinking water? It looks like even now it is not for consideration until2023
As per above reference 21/475 Irish Water in a submission to Sligo County Council Planning Department described Lough Gill as a critical public drinking water source which is why it must be prioritised for full assessment and restoration of its water quality standard.
We as a community are currently involved in a major campaign to prevent the reopening of Quarry blasting, Asphalt Manufacture and Processing of stone adjacent to Lough Gill SAC reference Sligo Planning Department PL21/236 for full details. We want to highlight our concerns in relation to this planning application and its consequences for the River Basin Catchment of Sligo Bay and Lough Gill.
The quarry closed approx. 9 years ago and is now full with stale water which we understand is being pumped via the Aughamore Stream into Lough Gill 24/7. We are aware the Irish water have told Local Elected Councillor that water is not being pumped but a senior official in SCC has confirmed to same councillor that water is being pumped which raises our concerns even more.
The following pictures of the quarry and the processing plant as they say tells a thousand words and illustrates why we are seriously concerned that this planning application should not be approved and full restoration of the site should be insisted on the authority.
This is the Quarry full of water being pumped into Lough Gill 24/7
This is the Asphalt Plant and Processing Area with our beautiful Lough Gill in picture the source of Sligo Town drinking water supply
This is the Catchments.i.e., map showing the streams flowing into Lough Gill. Please note Cemex was the owner and Lagan now owner of this processing area
As you can see from the pictures it is a serious concern that Lough Gill may be polluted with serious consequences for drinking water, by the by-product, Oil etc if this is allowed become a working quarry which will have 85 HGVs entering and leaving each day. It will also be transporting Asphalt making product from Dublin to this processing plant and will have oil tankers arriving and refuelling plant machinery etc on site. As already indicated, we as a community do not have the expertise to protect our Lough Gill Lake from this awful potential damage and therefore have requested all our National Bodies to ensure this is not allowed proceed.
In summary we feel and recommend the following be included in the River Basin Plan for 2022 to 2027.
Each Local Authority should have:
- A permanent Ecologist and Hydrologist employed to professionally monitor the water sources.
- They must have a brief to develop with Volunteer and Community assistance a River Basin (Rivers Trust) for all major water sources and rivers.
- The professional water experts must be obliged to work cooperatively with Rivers Trusts established by communities to ensure they are fully informed on all aspects of monitoring of quality levels and any pollution occurring etc
- Each Local Authority should be obliged to publish locally the results of all monitoring, testing, and contaminations of each river lake etc each month.
- Each Local Authority must be required to ensure efficient enforcement measures including professional appropriate staff are in place to ensure enforcement is immediate and swift.
Government must ensure:
- There should be various levels of penalties for breaching of standards in place with appropriate legal regulations to ensure compliance.
- Education and engagement of the farming community to allow them play their part in ensuring the activities of farming is not a pollutant.
- A scheme (if not already in place) to encourage farmers set aside area at verge of rivers etc must be provided to compensate farmers for co-operating with developing the quality of our waters.
- The monitoring schedules of our rivers and lakes must be published so local communities can visibly see it in action and have confidence in the process. A yearly sampling test is not sufficient to give confidence to people.
- The Angling Community are a fantastic resource and must be pro-actively engaged in the development of Rivers Trusts and Clubs teaching young people the skills and gift of fishing.
- Angling Clubs could be a great resource to assist with monitoring programme.
- It would be a very positive and economically efficient were a grant aid scheme be put in place to support the development of more organised Angling Clubs with a brief to support the work of monitoring and protecting our very valuable resource -our Rivers and Lakes. They could be the Eyes and Ears of Irish Water, Local Authority Water Programme. EPA etc locally to the mutual benefit of all.
- Government should proactively assist groups financially with the development and ongoing running costs associated with a River Trust in each of the recognised Catchment area to ensure proper involvement of communities in protecting and advocating for our Lakes Rivers and Streams.
We trust these suggestions and overall submission will provoke debate within the steering group and that some of the suggestions can be considered for the future.