Half Derry rivers fail water quality tests

Dean Blackwood.
Dean Blackwood.

At least half the rivers in the Foyle and Faughan catchments breached water quality standards in 2018, according to environmentalist Dean Blackwood.

Mr. Blackwood reported that 50 per cent (4 out of 8) of rivers in the Faughan system failed to make the Water Framework Directive grade.

“Three rivers had breaches for dissolved iron which promotes algae growth, acidity and affects reproduction in fish,” reported Mr. Blackwood, who is a member of the Faughan Anglers as well as a planning expert.

“The Burntollet river at Ness Woods and at Loughermore as well as the River Faughan at Carmoney and the Cullion Burn all failed water quality standards.

“Significant water monitoring and testing continues at Carmoney abstraction point due the presence of vast volumes of illegal waste deposited up-stream at Mobuoy Road,” he advised.

More than half the rivers - five out of nine or 56 per cent - in the Burn Dennett and Foyle catchments breached WFD standards last year. Mr. Blackwood outlined a litany of worrying breaches in a recent presentation to local councillors.

”Two rivers were classified in poor status: Carrigans River and Skeoge River. The Glenmornan river near Strabane plus the Burn Dennet and Sandville Burn near Bready failed water quality standards

”The maximum allowable concentrations of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were breached in Burn Dennet river in 2018 and in 2015 for Benzo (b,k) fluoranthene and Benzo (g,h,i) perylene.

“Exposure to PAHs have been linked to cardio vascular disease, poor foetal development and cancer (skin, lung, bladder, liver and stomach cancers). Cypermethrin, an agricultural insecticide highly toxic to fish, bees and aquatic insects was also detected in the Burn Dennet river.

“The Upper Foyle transitional waters failed WFD water quality standards due to high levels of Nitrogen in 2015, the last available report on marine waters.”