Pollution fears at lake as €1m sewerage plan delayed again

Further delays in carrying out a long-awaited extension to Killarney’s sewerage network could exacerbate pollution problems in Kerry’s world-famous lakes.

A planned €1m extension of the public sewerage scheme to the scenic Aghadoe area will not commence for several years, Kerry County Council has advised.

The area has experienced a large increase in residential development in recent years, mainly serviced by septic tanks.

Independent councillor Brendan Cronin said there was a massive need for a sewerage scheme in an area which had so many septic tanks. “This area has a large number of private houses and tourism developments and the high concentration of septic tanks could have implications for the lakes,” he said.

The European Court of Justice has already highlighted Killarney’s biggest lake, Lough Lein, as an example of Ireland’s failure to comply with EU waste water directives, especially in relation to septic tanks.

The ECJ criticised Ireland’s record on environmental protection, and was told a study had shown 12% of pollutants entering Lough Lein came from domestic septic tanks.

However, according to Kerry County Council, other schemes are a priority.

With the Department of the Environment choosing works on the basis of needs, there was little hope of Aghadoe going ahead in the medium- or short-term, the council said.

A submission for funding has been made for the Aghadoe area as part of the Killarney Main Drainage Scheme. It is expected to be included in the next round of works, but areas prioritised ahead of it include Kilcummin, Glenbeigh, Fenit, Tarbert, Ardfert, and Abbeydorney.

Pollution in Lough Lein is also seen as a threat to the UN Biosphere status which the Killarney valley enjoys because of its unique ecosystem.

Reports in recent years have shown that conditions in Lough Lein have improved due to better farm management, the REPs scheme, changes in forestry practices, and work by local authorities.

There has been pollution in the lake, which has periodic algal blooms, since the 1970s.

Following such a bloom outbreak in 1997, the Lough Lein Working Group was set up to draft a management plan for the lakes.

Surveys of rivers in the catchment found a number of pollution sources, including farms, septic tanks, and local authorities.

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