Derry drinking water plant shut down following river pollution

Dead fish floating on the River Faughan. (Picture Lucan Newland)
Dead fish floating on the River Faughan. (Picture Lucan Newland)
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NI Water has confirmed that its treatment plant in Eglinton has been shut down as a precaution as a direct result of the pollution in the River Faughan.

Concerns have been raised locally over the fact that the Faughan supplies 60% of Derry’s drinking water.

Some of the fish affected in the major disaster along the River Faughan.

Some of the fish affected in the major disaster along the River Faughan.

The water is treated at Carnmoney before being pumped out through the system to local homes and businesses.

NI Water has now redirected supply resources from elsewhere to ensure uninterrupted supply to local homes in the wake of what has been termed “an ecological disaster” by one Foyle MLA.

A spokeswoman said: “NI Water can assure customers the water quality in the Derry/Londonderrry area is safe to drink and continues to be of the highest quality.

“Following the recent pollution incident in the River Faughan, NI Water took immediate action to protect the water supply in the area.

“This included, as a precaution, shutting down the Carmoney Water Treatment Works (WTW) at Eglinton.” She added: “NI Water staff have been rezoning the area which involves taking water from different treatment works to continue to provide an uninterrupted supply of safe, clean drinking water.

“The water in the River Faughan is being monitored. The Works will remain closed until NI Water is satisfied the water quality in the River has returned to normal.

“NI Water will continue to liaise with Northern Ireland Environment Agency in relation to their water quality monitoring in the River Faughan, as they are the body responsible for monitoring the condition of the River.

“This enables NI Water to effectively manage drinking water abstraction from the River.”

Earlier today a local man described his shock after coming across hundreds of dead fish in the River in what has been termed ‘an ecological disaster’.

Lucan Newland captured the disaster on film while out walking with a friend yesterday.

Mr Newland, who has also fished the river in the past, said: “Me and a mate were down walking and he brought a dead fish to my attention and then I brought one to his.

“It seemed to be every step we took there was more and more fish, everything from young salmon fry, yearlings up to massive salmon, sea trout, brown trout, everything.

“I covered a 1.5 to 2 mile stretch and every footstep I took there were three to four dead fish.”

Concerns have also now been raised over the fact that the Faughan supplies 60% of Derry’s drinking water.

Stormont MLAs were meanwhile have been called upon to examine what has been termed an “ecological disaster”, with initial reports suggest that at least 1,000 fish have been killed along a 20 mile stretch from Claudy to the tidal reach.

Foyle People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann today warned that from being one of the best salmon rivers in Europe, the Faughan is now in crisis.

Mr McCann has now today written to the clerk of the Infrastructure Committee at Stormont, of which he is a member, asking that this disaster and the issues arising from it be put onto the agenda of the first meeting of the committee when the Assembly resumes.

“I will be asking the committee as a whole to travel to Derry to look at the area for themselves and consider the appalling damage perpetrated on our local environment”, he said.

Sinn Féin Councillor for the area Paul Fleming meanwhile said today: “It’s important that a full investigation is carried out to find the source of this pollution.

“Sinn Féin is committed to the prevention of pollution of Ireland’s water systems and rivers.

“Anyone who is found to be in breach of operational standards and environmental regulation must be investigated and prosecuted.”