FERMANAGH’S tourist industry could take a massive hit if steps are not taken to clean up our loughs.
The algae crisis that has swamped Lough Neagh in Mid-Ulster has lead to concerns over fish dying and drinking water being affected.
Last month The Herald reported that blue green algae has been found in Lower Lough Erne, in the vicinity of Castle Archdale with the algae later spreading to Muckross Bay, Kesh, Carrickduff on Upper Lough McNean, and on the shoreline at Rushin House, on Upper Lough McNean at Belcoo.
Algae has recently been spotted at Lough Navar and Jack Tisdall of fishing group, the Erne Anglers, warns that if something is not done soon, then tourists may not come back if the loughs are ridden with algae.
He said: “Lough Neagh is probably as bad a situation I’ve ever seen. You can stir the algae there as it’s that thick. But there is potential, that if the level of sewage being pumped into Lough Erne along with farm effluent isn’t dealt with, the Erne could be in exactly the same position.
“If that happens, it will be too late for our tourist industry in particular. There would be no point in crying then as we need to deal with this now. What we have at the moment is just the tip of the iceberg. It will get a lot worse if something isn’t done.
“The climate is changing and the more it does – to the point of us having warmer summers – we’re going to see this all the time and it will kill our tourism industry if we don’t get a grip of it now.
“We had rain in July, August and September and plenty of it. However, this would have been a big problem if the (hot) weather we had in June had continued. Had that happened, we would have been in a worse situation.”
On the algae seen on Lough Navar, Cllr Mark Ovens added: “Many people use the different lakes and paths within the Lough Navar Forest to walk dogs and so I would urge them to be especially vigilant and not let their pets enter the water, especially where there are any signs or indication of algae.
“Blue-green algae in particular can appear in both the water as well as along the shoreline and can be harmful to humans and highly toxic to animals.”
Meanwhile, NI Water have assured Fermanagh’s residents that their tap water is safe to drink.
A NI Water spokeswoman said: “We can assure our customers that the water supplied from all our Water Treatment Works, which includes water abstracted from Lough Neagh, Lough Erne and the Fermanagh area is safe to drink and use as normal.
“Increased levels of algae can cause an unusual taste and smell to water from your tap but does not pose a risk to health.
“The taste and smell can be earthy and/or musty. Therefore, while the water from your tap can be used in the normal way, we fully appreciate some customers might notice a difference in the taste and/or odour to their drinking water at this time.”
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