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Uisce Éireann Fined Over 2022 Fish Kill in Ballinagh River

18th October 2023
Dead fish found on Ballinagh River on 19 July 2022
Dead fish found in the Ballinagh River in Co Cavan on 19 July 2022 Credit: IFI

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has welcomed the prosecution of Uisce Éireann (formerly Irish Water) for a pollution incident in the Ballinagh River in Co Cavan in which 160 fish died.

Sample results taken from the water near the Uisce Éireann wastewater treatment plant at Ballinagh showed high levels of ammonia — 32 times greater than expected in good salmon or trout waters.

This was the third prosecution against Uisce Éireann at this plant in Ballinagh since 2015.

A fine of €4,000, plus costs and expenses of €3079, was imposed at a hearing on the matter at Cavan District Court on 6 October 2023.

Discharge evident in the Ballinagh River in July 2022 | Credit: IFIDischarge evident in the Ballinagh River in July 2022 | Credit: IFI

IFI personnel were alerted to the fish kill on the Ballinagh River on 19 July 2022, as previously reported on

An investigation was carried immediately and samples were taken for analysis by IFI senior environmental officer Ailish Keane.

The results indicated the pollution source was direct discharge from an effluent pipe at Uisce Éireann’s wastewater treatment plant at Ballinagh.

The conviction was secured under Section 171 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 – legislation regarding protection of fishing waters from harmful pollutants.

Commenting after the verdict, Dr Milton Matthews, director of IFI’s North-Western River Basin District said: “Approximately 160 fish, predominantly brown trout, perished in this incident, and that number also included some stickleback and minnow.

“High levels of ammonia in a watercourse are toxic for fish. Fish kill events such as these are extreme ecological events. They can have a severe and prolonged impact on native fish stocks due to the loss of locally adapted, genetically distinct fish populations, which may take many years to recover.

“We welcome further engagement with Uisce Éireann. This will ensure that regular visual inspections of wastewater facilities and discharge points, are conducted to minimise the risk of such pollution events reoccurring. This is especially important at times of high temperatures and low water flow.”

Published in Angling, Environment Team

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