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Fears for Lough Carra water supply

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BIRD’S EYE VIEW Overlooking Castleburke on the shores of Lough Carra. The lake has become increasingly discoloured in recent years and there are fears it is in constant deterioration. Pic: Darren Moran/Firefly Digital Photography

Supply of 400 houses in danger after EPA change water status on lake

Anton McNulty

THE water supply to up to 400 houses from Lough Carra may not be fit for consumption in the short-term, according to a local councillor, if current problems affecting the lake continue.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently changed the water quality status on Lough Carra from one of ‘good’ to ‘review’ following recent tests on the lake. As a result, the EPA will carry out fortnightly monitoring of the lake and its catchment area - something which has never occurred before.
The 4,000 acre lake located, approximately eight miles south of Castlebar, is a local water source for 300 to 400 houses in Ballintubber, Clogher, Ballyglass and Robeen. Cllr Al McDonnell, who lives locally beside the lake in Moorehall on the north side of the lake, explained that the changes to the lake are ‘quite disturbing’ and he is deeply concerned for the safety of the water supply.
“Given that 400 households use the water this should be a source of great concern when consumers become aware of what the problem is. I forecast that the lake will be in serious trouble in as little as five years if this trend continues. I don’t think it’s water will be fit for consumption and this will have serious consequences from a health and safety point of view,” he told The Mayo News.
Cllr McDonnell has been to the forefront in raising the concerns among local people and fishermen regarding the physical change in the lake in recent years.
As well as the the sudden growth of vegetation on the lake - some of which are alien to the lake - the once pristine waters are now black and murky, and in places it is no longer possible to see the bottom of the lake.
Lough Carra was one of the county’s premier fishing lakes but according to Cllr McDonnell, it has been abandoned by anglers and the mayfly and other insects have disappeared from the lake.

Could not speculate
Cllr McDonnell said he could not speculate on what the source of the lake’s problems is.
He said people will have to wait for the full scientific analysis to be completed before identifying the source.
A presentation on the current status of the lake was presented at last week’s Castlebar Municipal District meeting by Larry Walsh, of the Environment section of Mayo County Council, where he confirmed that the status of the lake has changed.
Mr Walsh said a delegation including Cllr McDonnell visited the lake and took samples of the plants growing in the lake, some of which were not there before.
Cllr McDonnell praised the response of the EPA in acknowledging the problem associated with the lake and was confident that they will do all they can to identify the source of the problem.
He referred to the lake is ‘a little gem’ and called for action to be taken to save the lake before it is too late.
“This justifies the concern of the people who have been observing the lake, which has been a concern for us. The changes in five years have been quite dramatic. This is just the start and we need to identify the source of the problem. The lake has been described as a little gem and we have to protect and save it from total destruction. We can only destroy it once and once it is destroyed it is gone forever,” he said.
Cllr Therese Ruane said urgent action was needed to protect the lake and identify the cause of the problems. The Sinn Féin councillor said the lake is protected as a National Heritage Area and yet it has problems with its water quality.