Declining water quality in Askeaton a huge concern for locals

The River Deel in Askeaton. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

THE declining water quality on the Deel River in Askeaton is a huge concern to one local group.

Askeaton Ballysteen Natural Heritage, founded in 2022, are a local action group with the mission of raising awareness of the natural heritage in the locality and implementing restoration projects in areas that have been damaged.

A huge cause of concern for the people of Askeaton and surrounding areas, they say, is the declining water quality of the River Deel and Shannon Estuary.

Askeaton Ballysteen Natural Heritage has now called upon Uisce Éireann and Limerick City and County Council to ensure that the necessary upgrades to their waste water plant are installed as soon as possible.

“We will not stand idly by while sewage pours into our river and estuary, causing harm to our natural heritage and potentially to the health of our community,” the group’s chairman, Mike O’Connor, told the Limerick Post.

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“Limerick City and County Council signs around the town remind potential swimmers that the water is unsafe for bathing due to high levels of bacterial pollution. These have been in place since 2021 after Askeaton Community Council commissioned water quality samples ahead of the annual Deel Swim.

“The results indicated that E. coli and faecal coliform levels were extremely high, making the estuary unsafe for bathing,” he added.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) recently published their 2022 Water Quality Indicator’s Report which highlighted that the Deel Estuary is one of only three transitional and coastal waterbodies in Ireland with unsatisfactory levels of Winter Phosphate.

Sewage is one of the main causes of high phosphorous levels in waterbodies.

The Deel Estuary is 55 per cent above the threshold value, the Maigue Estuary (also in Limerick) is 40 per cent above the threshold value, and Castletown Estuary in County Louth is six per cent above the threshold value.

“Under the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, monitoring of the performance of treatment plants and receiving waters is required by all EU member states. The wastewater treatment centre in Askeaton is not fit for purpose and simply acts as a holding tank, regularly overflowing into the Deel Estuary. The town’s sewerage and stormwater overflow system, like many towns in Ireland, is combined. This intensifies the overflows during heavy rainfall events,” Mr O’Connor explained.

Askeaton Ballysteen Natural Heritage and Askeaton Ballysteen Community Council have requested the results of water samples taken by Limerick City and County Council on the River Deel since 2020 but are yet to receive any results.