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Polution Of River Suir Continues

The River Suir, as most of our readers are aware, rises on the slopes of the 480m (1575 ft) high Bearnan Eile (Translation from the Irish – “Devil’s Bit”) mountain, just north of Templemore here in Co. Tipperary.  It flows southwards, merging along the way with the rivers Aherlow and further on with the river Tar, before entering the sea at Waterford.

This same river is now under threat of serious pollution, partly due to the laid-back attitude and total inactivity of Tipperary Co. Council personnel.

Back in August of 2016 the Anner Hotel had been the appointed venue for a River Suir Community meetings. The purpose of these meetings was supposedly to open up serious discussion on the river Suir; with regard to water quality and other natural water issues, while also exploring possible opportunities regarding what this river and its tributaries could provide for local communities. The importance of the river Suir, from a European perspective, was explained at such meetings, including why the river had been selected as a ‘Special Area of Conservation’, based on the myriad of wildlife being supported therein and thereon. Almost two years later, all planning; to use more liquid expressions, appears to have evaporated, dissolved, melted and even became vaporised.

Here, on both sides of Barry’s Bridge, Blue Green algae covers most of the surface of the water. The growth of this algae is rapidly encouraged by the current bright sunlight and existing warm temperatures. This when added to nutrient enrichments including phosphorus and nitrogen; latter found in animal waste; human waste; fertilizers used by the farming community; the improper located of septic tank systems; waste water conveyed in sewers, (Issue first raised by us on November 7th, 2013 and cleaned up first in 2018), now has further exacerbated an already rapid, deteriorating condition within the Suir’s river water.

A stainless-steel water pump, driving water in the form of a fountain (Gifted to the people of Thurles town, courtesy of Cantwell Engineering Ltd), and which had previously aerated the water and down stream in this area, was switched off without explanation by Tipperary Co. Council some 10 years ago, thus further adding to the problems being experienced today.

This blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria bacteria) appears to have now become a harmful algal bloom producing toxins (such as microcystins and anatoxins) that can affect not just humans, but more especially livestock (e.g. Horses, Cows, dogs and wild fowl) latter that frequently swim in and drink this contaminated algae soup; with the levels of this toxicity regarded to be generally moderate to severe.

The presence of the algae is confirmed by the foamy water appearing; washed downstream, which we had privately tested, believing it to be some form of industrial chemical pollution. This foam or “bloom scum” uses up the oxygen in the water, which in turn causes major problems for all other aquatic life.

Common signs in animals to watch out for, include:- Vomiting; Diarrhoea; Coma Shock; Disorientation; Seizures; Muscle tremors; Muscle Rigidity; Paralysis; Difficulty in Breathing; Blue Discolouration of the Skin and Death. Unfortunately, for animals there is no antidote for the toxins produced by blue-green algae, however immediate veterinary care should be considered an imperative.

We learn last week that Templemore Thurles Municipal District Manager, Mr Matt Shortt agrees with Local Council Representatives, that the river Suir currently looks like a cesspool, but adds that officials would have to take advice on what the best course of action should be. “We have to be very careful about what we do and will have to take advice, so that we do not cause any problems down the line. We don’t have the expertise here, but we will make inquiries and take it from there,” he stated.

This statement however is not satisfactory and akin to quotes from builder Mr O’Reilly (Actor David Kelly) in a Faulty Towers script. In previous years this weed was removed from the river by the simple act of “deskuzzing”.  Laughingly, (God Help Us), the building overlooking this current cesspit, namely “The Source”, was selected as the launch pad for a Tipperary Heartland Tourism unveiling just last weekend. Senior officials attending, including at least one Tipperary Labour TD (Mr Alan Kelly) and one Fianna Fáil Co. Councillor (Mr John Hogan), both appear to have lost two of their basic five senses, namely in this case smell and vision.

Human Health Concerns
This Blue-green bloom can pose a human health threat to those entering the river. Symptoms experienced from drinking contaminated water that contain blue-green algae can include:- Dizziness, Diarrhoea, Stomach Cramps, Nausea, Headaches, Fever, Sore Throats, Abdominal Pain, Muscle Aches, Mouth Ulcers, and Blistering of the Lips. Skin coming into contact with the water can develop severe rash like symptoms.

Surely the time has come to claim our town back from those who now govern within the Templemore / Thurles Municipal District.

More on this deliberate destruction of “the town we love so well”  in the coming day.

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