Dáil Éireann - Volume 492 - 17 June, 1998

Written Answers. - Water Pollution.

105. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the serious pollution of the Robe in County Mayo; if his attention has [1234] further been drawn to the fact that this should be the main spawning river for eastern Lough Mask; and if he will bring the matter to the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency with a view to carrying out studies to establish the degree and cause of the pollution and to prepare a plan for the elimination of the pollution. [14635/98]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. D. Wallace): Statutory responsibility for water management and protection, including responsibility for monitoring water quality, rests primarily with local authorities. Mayo County Council, a statutory pollution control authority, has the primary responsibility for the protection of water resources in the River Robe area. The Environmental Protection Agency has responsibility both in so far as activities licensable by the agency are concerned and as part of its overall responsibility for the preparation and implementation of environmental monitoring programmes. Extensive statutory powers are available under the Water Pollution Acts, 1977 and 1990 and the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 to support these bodies in their roles.

The River Robe is the main feeder stream to Lough Mask. The Environmental Protection Agency's report Water Quality in Ireland 1991-1994, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, indicated that the River Robe was moderately polluted and hypertrophic below the towns of Claremorris, Ballindine and Ballinrobe but that the situation in the lower river should be rectified by a proposed new treatment plant for Ballinrobe sewage. The report also indicated that Lough Mask was oligotrophic, that is, unenriched and that no recent change had been detected in water quality in open water.

The Ballinrobe sewerage and sewage disposal scheme, costing £11 million approximately, became operational in mid-1995 and this together with the smaller Hollymount scheme, also provided in 1995, has been of benefit to the water quality of the River Robe. The Environmental Protection Agency's monitoring results provided to Mayo County Council for 1996 indicate a significant improvement in overall water quality in the River Robe.

My Department recently approved Mayo County Council's proposal to have work commenced on a major sewerage scheme at Claremorris, costing £6.7 million approximately, and when the scheme is completed over the next 18 months, it will also lead to an improvement in the quality of the water in the River Robe.

In addition, the Lough Carra-Mask Task Force, which was set up three years ago involving a number of sectoral agencies, including Mayo County Council, is carrying out a full survey of the Lough Mask catchment, including the River Robe, and hundreds of farms have been surveyed in the upper regions of the Robe catchment in the past two years. This committee will report within the [1235] next 12 months on the status of the Carra-Mask and Robe catchment.