Council lauded – but ‘high’ pollution in ground water

There is good and bad news for County Roscommon in the latest report on the quality of the country’s water supply which was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency last Friday.    The situation in rivers and lakes locally is either good or improving while Roscommon County Council comes out top of the list in terms of phosphorus compliancy in river stations.   It’s not all good news however because the report also finds that 57% of ground water throughout the country (where most of the water supply comes from) is polluted with some type of faecal coliform or other and that especially applies to the Roscommon area too.    In terms of river quality the report finds that in the Western region 84% of rivers are unpolluted, 10% are slightly polluted, 5% are moderately polluted while 0.5% are seriously polluted.   With regard to the Shannon an improvement was recorded as 67% of the rivers in the Shannon system are now unpolluted, which is up 4% on the last survey (2003).    22% are slightly polluted while 11% is the moderately polluted figure and 0.7% is rated as being seriously polluted in the Shannon River basin.   The amount of nitrates in the general Shannon basin found in rivers in 2006 is up on 2005 but still at 1995 levels.    Meanwhile the number of phosphates in rivers in the Shannon basin in 2006 shows a significant reduction in 2006 on the levels present in 2005 and 2003. With regard to fish kills, there were 34 fish kills throughout the country in 2006.      Based on investigations carried out by the fisheries board, the cause of those fish kills were: Agriculture 5, Industry 2, Local Authorities 7, Other 15, unknown 5. The figure of 34 fish kills nationally is down on 2005 (45) and 2004 (43) and is well down of figures in past years. In 1987 there were 120 fish kills in the country and in 1989 there were 102.   However the groundwater situation gives most cause for concern as groundwater is where drinking water comes from in many counties and rural areas in particular.   Some of the worst affected areas in the country are in the general Roscommon region with many of the areas tested showing in excess of 100 faecal coliforms.    And many others in the general Roscommon region show levels of 11 to 100 faecal coliforms. The presence of even one faecal coliform is a breach of the regulations.   With regard to phosphorus regulations Roscommon County Council comes out on top in the country when it comes to compliance leading the way on over 95% which is way above its target.