Experts attempt to trace sources of Kerry river pollution

Experts are finding it difficult to trace sources of pollution in a well-known salmon and trout angling river in Co Kerry.

Cllr Danny Healy Rae
Cllr Danny Healy Rae

Water quality in the River Maine, downstream of Castleisland, is of “unacceptable status’’ as far as water framework directive standards are concerned, according to Kerry County Council.

Executive chemist David Lenihan said the limestone nature of the area made it extremely difficult to trace the pollution sources. He said the river, which is not used as a drinking water source, is monitored monthly at four locations and results from all four showed the water to be “less than good quality”, particularly for nutrients and ammonia.

He also told a meeting of area county councillors an EPA survey, in August 2013, showed deterioration in biological quality since a previous survey, in 2011.

Mr Lenihan said he could not be sure if the spread of agricultural slurry was a factor, but heavy rainfall exacerbated the situation.

The worst affected site is at Tobermaing, source of the Maine, he said.

Cllr Michael Gleeson, who raised the issue, said the Maine was a leading angling river that should be restored it to its former pristine condition.

“Every effort must be made to trace the sources of this unacceptably high level of pollution,’’ he urged.

Mr Lenihan told the meeting the pollution could impact on mayfly and stonefly usually found in salmon rivers.

Cllr Danny Healy-Rae felt the provision of a long-waited extension to Castleisland sewerage scheme would help the situation, adding there were problems with septic tanks in the entire area.

Meanwhile, results of water quality tests in Lough Guitane, source of drinking water for much of Kerry, show a satisfactory unpolluted, or low nutrient, status.

However, the River Finnow, a tributary of the Flesk which flows into the Lakes of Killarney, has a slightly polluted status and does not comply with the water framework directive.

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