- Lough Neagh’s Alarming Infestation of Virulent Bacteria
- Concerns for Public Health and Environmental Emergency
- Contributing Factors and Urgent Need for Remediation
Agricultural and sewage runoff has infected the lake that supplies 40% of Northern Ireland’s drinking water with deadly bacteria.
Lough Neagh, the UK and Ireland’s largest freshwater lake, is being tragically polluted by blue-green algae.
It is killing fish, birds, and canines, and there are grave concerns for public health because 40% of Northern Ireland’s drinking water comes from the lough.
Peter Harper, shoreline environment officer for the Lough Neagh Partnership, says, “The lough is in a state of emergency at the moment, and so are we in Northern Ireland due to the lack of a functioning administration.
The smelly cyanobacteria are created by excess nutrients like nitrates and phosphates from agricultural waste and effluent.
Gary McErlain, whose family has fished these waters for generations, is empathetic regarding the condition of the lough, which is regarded by many as a national treasure.
He states, “It’s catastrophic. We have fished from it, it has been our source of income, and people adore it.
“To consider that it needs our help today and that we must help it. We have broken it and must now attempt to repair it.”
A marker in the lough indicates the location of the extraction pipe from which 40 percent of Northern Ireland’s drinking water begins its voyage.
Despite guarantees, the water below appears like a snow globe with green algae and nutrient soup, threatening public safety.
Mary O’Hagan, who is leading the charge for an action plan, explains, “If we didn’t have this issue, I would probably be swimming in open water offshore.”
She states, “From what I understand, the risks include migraines, dizziness, and nausea.
Long-term effects include liver injury and neurological damage, so it is not something to be taken lightly.
The relocation of Gavin Knox’s paddleboarding firm made him “very angry” since “this is an entirely avoidable set of circumstances.”
“The problems encircling the lake are not unique to Lough Neagh. “Lough Neagh tells me that all contributors feeding into it, whether from agricultural land or sewage discharge, have ongoing problems,” he adds.
Climate change is a factor in the rising water temperature, and invasive zebra mussels are not assisting. They filter the sunlight so that it permeărătes the phytoplankton more deeply.