THE Shannon Estuary is in poor condition with pollution levels in some of its tributary rivers deemed to be higher than normal.
This was the message from The Maigue Rivers Trust to councillors at this month’s Adare-Rathkeale district meeting.
The Trust’s project officer Liz Gabbett highlighted the many challenges they are facing in working to protect, enhance and cherish the rivers and lakes of the Maigue catchment for the benefit and enjoyment of all.
During an impassioned presentation, Ms Gabbett spoke of how invasive plant species such as Giant Hogweed are choking river channels, obscuring spawning grounds and reducing oxygen levels to the point where fish can suffocate.
Councillors were told that phosphorus can also get into rivers from sewage, septic tanks, industrial discharges and agricultural runoff.
According to the Trust, ammonia, which is very toxic to fish, can often come from sewage, slurry or peat lands.
Ms Gabbett pointed out that water quality is declining and the overall quality of water in the Shannon Estuary is poor.
Independent councillor John O’Donoghue, who is a farmer, took the view that it wasn’t just agricultural workers that were to blame. He suggested that more septic tank inspections were required at people’s homes.
Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheahan claimed that he heard reports of one farmer who was allegedly pumping out the contents of his machinery into the river.
However, a number of councillors who are themselves farmers, explained that from what he described, this was highly improbable.
Cllr Bridie Collins (FF) felt it was imperative that the message went out from the meeting that Adare-Rathkeale representatives are not anti-farmer.
”I don’t want to put anyone’s back up. Of course, none of us are anti farmer,” Cllr Sheahan insisted.