The polluted river.

Pollution incident on river in Ballina

A spillage of effluent led to a pollution incident on the Grange River in Ballina on Wednesday week last.

The river, a prime spawing ground for trout and populated by a number of other fish species, turned white on a stretch just above its confluence with the lake, sparking panic among local anglers over a potential fish kill.
However, the spillage was stalled within hours and there were no sightings of a dead fish after members of Killaloe Ballina and District Anglers Club contacted local Labour Party councillor Fiona Bonfield to inform her of the situation.

Councillor Bonfield got straight on to Irish Water and and staff were on hand relatively swiftly to stop the polluting matter entering the river.

Contacted by this newspaper, Tipperary County Council Environment and Climate Action issued a statement in which it stated that it had received a report of a pipe discharging "deleterious matter" to the river on Wednesday of last week.

The council stated: "An executive scientist visited the site on the day and carried out extensive investigations in the area. She confirmed a pipe discharging to the Grange River at Roolagh.

"The source of the discharge was found, and following works carried out, the discharge to the river was ceased. It has been confirmed there has been no further discharge to the river and the discharge pipe to the river will be removed."

Angling club Chairman, Paul Hanly, said his members were extremely concerned over the incident as a spillage from the local municipal wastewater treatment plant back in May 2018 had resulted in a kill of around 200 fish in the river.

However, he stressed that there appeared to be no fish kill in this latest incident and he stressed that the treatment plant was not the source of the effluent on this occasion. Mr Hanly said that while there had been a number of spillages of effluent into the river in recent months, he was happy with the way the authorities had responded on this occasion.

"We got on to our local councillor Fiona Bonfield and she got on to it straight away. The river is now running clear again," said Mr Hanley, who was speaking to The Guardian last week.

Councillor Bonfield paid tribute to Irish Water and council staff for the way they responded so quickly to the incident. "The staff on the ground are very good at keeping an eye on things, as are the local anglers," she said.

While all stake holders had a duty to ensure the water of the river was not polluted, Councillor Bonfield said that protection of the flora and fauna of the waterway into the future would hinge on the upgrade of the Irish Water owned local wastewater treatment plant which was now operating at full capacity.

She said plans for the upgrade of the plant were at an advanced stage and she hoped the works would take place in the short term, but the work was dependent on the availability of funding.