Maeve O'Neill concerned at 'alarming' level of raw sewage and water quality decline

Concern has been raised over the ‘alarming’ amount of raw sewage being released into the rivers and waterways in the Derry City and Strabane Council area and the decline in water quality.

By Gillian Anderson
Monday, 20th December 2021, 12:27 pm
The River Faughan
The River Faughan

Officials from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEARA) and NI Water will be invited to council to discuss the matter following a proposal from People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O’Neill.

The Moor councillor said: “There has been a report which has come out relating to biodiversity and the North is the twelfth worst region in the world for biodiversity loss.

“Figures that have just been released show about seven million tonnes of raw sewage a year being discharged into our rivers and waterways.

Sign up to our daily Derry Journal Today newsletter

“This is really alarming and these pollution figures tell us the biodiversity situation here is likely to worsen.

“In a separate report which is very connected and published recently it told us that none of our waterways are considered to be in good health under the Water Framework Directive and this is unfortunately a considerable decline from previous assessments.

“This is alarming locally and really significant because our river systems here are integral and important for our community’s health and wellbeing and the health and wellbeing of our ecosystems.

“The River Faughan, in particular, supplies 60% of the City’s drinking water and has many special European protections but now doesn’t even classify as being in good health under the Water Framework Directive.”

Councillor O’Neill made a proposal that ‘Council invite officials from the DfI with regards to the seven million tonnes of raw sewage a year being discharged into our rivers and waterways and also DEARA with regards to the decline in water quality to present to the relevant committee to explain the causes and associated actions on these problems'.

DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney suggested NI Water should be included in the invite as they ‘will complement each other’.

Mayor, Alderman Graham Warke agreed it could go forward to the Environment and Regeneration Committee with Director Karen Phillips agreeing to bring the paper to committee.