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Waterways Ireland have been notified by the HSE of a number of cases of Leptospirosis reported recently following exposure to the water on the Royal Canal in North Dublin.

Individuals are instructed not to engage in swimming, diving or immersive activity such as deliberate capsizing in the waterway pending further advisory.

Any facilities/activity providers are also requested to ensure, to the best of their ability, that clients do not engage in the same activities.

The HSE further advises all individuals partaking in watersport (and in turn for activity providers to advise their clients) of the risk, which is small but real, of acquiring Leptospirosis from water-based activities.

Persons with symptoms (a flu-like illness) within a three-week period after engaging in a water-based activity should seek medical attention immediately, mentioning any watercourse exposure.

Further information on Leptospirosis is available from the HSE website. Other enquiries can be directed to [email protected] or by contacting the Waterways Ireland Communications Office on 071-9650787.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection frequently found both in domestic and wild animals, which can spread to humans. Leptospirosis in Ireland is usually picked up from rats. The infection is spread through contact with rats, or rat urine generally.

Leptospirosis is a recreational hazard for those who participate in outdoor sports in contaminated areas and has been associated with water sports.

Occupations at risk would include veterinary surgeons, farmers, meat inspectors, butchers, abattoir and sewer workers.

High-risk water includes stagnant, dirty-looking or obviously polluted fresh water found in ditches, drains, ponds, lakes or rivers. Sea water poses less risk.

What precautions should I take?

  • Do not go swimming or boating in water which is known to be or obviously polluted.
  • Cover any cuts or abrasions with a waterproof dressing while swimming or canoeing.
  • Shower thoroughly as soon as possible following water activities.
  • Make sure the sporting clothing you wear minimises your contact with water.
  • Wash your hands after water activity, handling any animal or contaminated clothing and always before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Clean any cuts acquired during swimming, fishing or other near-water activities. Apply first aid as soon as possible.
    Rinsing dogs who have been swimming in high risk water reduces the risk of infection.
  • High-risk workers should always wear their personal protective equipment and clothing at all times when in high risk situations.
  • If you get a flu-like illness within a three-week period after engaging in any of these activities you should visit your doctor immediately, and tell her or him of your concerns and possible exposure to dirty or stagnant water.
Published in Inland Waterways

Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD announced midweek a significant package of funding totalling €1m for Phase 2 of the Royal Canal Greenway.

When launched in early 2020, it will be the longest greenway in Ireland, totalling 130km in length along the inland waterway connecting Maynooth in Co Kildare with Clondara in Co Longford.

The funding will be provided from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Budget 2020 allocation for greenways.

The Royal Canal Greenway is a dedicated off-road cycling and walking route which is currently being developed by Waterways Ireland and the local authorities of Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford using the existing towpath along the Royal Canal.

The funding will be used to complete the basic infrastructure to ensure the delivery of a greenway that is "fully functional, animated and activated to reach international trail standards".

Minister Moran said: “I warmly welcome this funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport which will be used to complete and enhance this wonderful amenity for the midlands.

"This co-operation between department, local authorities, Waterways Ireland and all of the groups connected with the greenway exemplifies what can be achieved and I look forward to good progress being made in realising this significant goal.

"Once completed, this greenway will connect Dublin to Longford, adding substantially to the existing network of greenways throughout the country. I have no doubt that visitors from home and abroad will enjoy this top-class experience and that it will motivate those interested in cycling and walking in this beautiful countryside to come and visit and see it first-hand.”

For more about the status of the Royal Canal Greenway developments see waterwaysireland.org/royalcanalstatus

Published in Inland Waterways

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it has confirmed a significant fish kill on the Royal Canal in Kilcock, Co Kildare earlier this week.

A report was received on Monday 1 July from Waterways Ireland of the fish kill, which has claimed some 300 fish of various species including roach, rudd, bream and pike.

The investigation, which commenced immediately and remains ongoing, has identified agricultural discharge to a River Ryewater feeder that enters the canal at Kilcock.

IFI says work is now ongoing to ensure that there is no further polluting discharge to the system from this location.

It has also has issued a fresh appeal to farmers to remain vigilant in avoiding water pollution during the summer months when harvesting silage and spreading slurry.

Silage effluent is a significant pollutant and if allowed to enter a waterway can potentially lead to fish death and habitat degradation.

IFI has a confidential hotline number at 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24 for the public to report incidents of water pollution, fish kills and illegal fishing. For more visit fisheriesireland.ie.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland has issued Marine Notices related to a number of events taking place on Ireland’s inland waterways this weekend.

On the Royal Canal, a Junior Canoe Polo Competition will take place at Kilcock Harbour from 10am to 6pm tomorrow, Saturday 22 June.

Passage will be possible between 1pm and 2pm. Masters of other craft are requested to proceed at slow speed and with minimum wash and note any directions issued by the stewards.

On the Shannon-Erne Waterway, masters and owners of vessels are advised that they may experience short-term delays between Lock 1 at Corraquill and Ballyconnell Marina between 1pm and 6.30pm tomorrow due to the waterway’s 25th anniversary event.

Masters are requested to proceed at slow speed and heed any instructions issued by the event marshals.

Elsewhere on the River Shannon, the swimming element of a triathlon event will take place in Tarmonbarry on Sunday 23 June between 9.30am and noon.

Tarmonbarry lock will be closed to traffic during this time, and the N5 Shannon lifting bridge will also be closed, requiring large airdraft vessels to berth north of the bridge for the period.

A children’s swimming event will take place at 6pm on Saturday in Tarmonbarry, but this will not affect vessels in the navigation.

Masters are requested to proceed at slow speed and with minimum wash when approaching this section of the river and heed any instructions issued by the event marshals.

Meanwhile, on Upper Lough Erne, masters and owners of vessels are advised that dredging works are due to commence at Kilmore Quay on Monday 1 July and last for approximately nine weeks.

The map below shows the area to be dredged and the route the vessels will be taking in order to bottom-dump the material.

Marine Notice Upper Lough Erne

Masters of vessel are requested to proceed with additional caution in the vicinity of the dredging operations and dredging vessels.

Waterways Ireland thanks its customers for their co-operation in this and all other matters.

Published in Inland Waterways

Shannonside FM reports that veteran inland waterways campaigner Dr Ian Bath has died aged 90.

Beginning in the 1970s, Dr Bath led the charge to revive the Royal Canal between Dublin and the River Shannon as a tourism amenity.

Through the efforts of Dr Bath and other volunteers in the Royal Canal Amenity Group, 74km of the waterway between Blanchardstown and Mullingar were reopened to navigation by 1990.

And another 20 years on, in October 2010, some months after Dr Bath’s history of the canal with Ruth Delany was published, the full length of the canal from the Shannon to the Liffey was officially reopened — an achievement for which Dr Bath was recognised with Afloat’s Sailor of the Month award for December 2010.

Shannonside FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises all users of sightings on the Royal Canal at Ashtown of a large invasive rodent species that is highly damaging to river, lake and canal banks.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the coypu — also known as the nutria in the United States — is regarded as a destructive invasive species and pest, posing a threat to agriculture, the stability of river banks and even coastal defences.

The coypu is an EU-regulated species of concern with trade, transport and reproduction restrictions in place (No.1143/2014).

The large river rats can also carry a number of serious diseases communicable to humans and domestic animals.

Waterways Ireland says coypu eradication programmes can cost up to several millions of euro and are not always successful.

Most recently there were sightings of the rodents in Cork city two years ago, after a number were trapped by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in a tributary of the River Lee.

But their presence across the country in the capital raises concerns about their further spread throughout Ireland’s inland waterways.

Waterways Ireland has provided a checklist for how to spot a coypu, which are often confused with common otters:

  • Large semi-aquatic rodent up to 1 meter in head to tail length. Features same in juveniles.
  • It can weigh 5-9kg.
  • It has webbed hind feet.
  • Dark fur often with lighter ends and has a white muzzle.
  • Has long cylindrical tail (not fur tail like otter) and small slightly protruding ears.
  • Distinctive features are large bright orange-yellow incisor (front) teeth usually visible.
  • Coypu are generally found near permanent water.

Do not attempt to engage, trap or harm these animals.

Waterways Ireland appeals for the public keep a lookout along the waterways and especially along the Royal Canal at Ashtown, and report sightings (with photos is possible) to any of the following:

For more information visit species.biodiversityireland.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#RoyalCanal - Waterways Ireland is advising masters and users of the Royal Canal that due to unprecedented dry weather conditions and low rainfall levels and subsequent low levels in Lough Owel, navigation water levels cannot be guaranteed on certain sections of the canal, particularly the summit level and adjacent levels.

Masters should contact the local water patroller prior to any planned journey along this inland waterway.

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - Combined mooring and passage permits and extended mooring permits for the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow Navigation for the 2019 season are now available online from Waterways Ireland.

All permits will run until Thursday 31 October, with annual renewal on 1 November each year. Applications require a photo of the vessel and a copy of its insurance (third party minimum).

Applicants can decide to print their own permit or have a hard copy sent by post. Submitted applications will receive an acknowledgement email, and once approved, an online link will be emailed for payment.

Questions regarding the application process can be forwarded to the inspectorate at [email protected] or by phone to 09064 35690 (9am-12pm Monday to Friday).

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - Funding for Waterways Ireland is on the rise, and particularly for projects in the Dublin region, according to Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan.

Responding last week to a Dáil question from Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith, Minister Madigan outlined that estimates for 2019 provide for an allocation of €25,117,000 for Waterways Ireland, representing an overall increase of €1 million on last year’s original allocation.

Within this figure, capital funding for Waterways Ireland has been increased by €800,000 from €3,580,00 to €4,380,000 in 2019.

In response to Dublin West TD Joan Burton, through whose constituency the Royal Canal flows, Minister Madigan provided a breakdown of Waterways Ireland’s Exchequer (current and capital) funding allocation from 2016 to present.

The level of funding provided for maintenance and upgrade of waterways, canals and rivers in Co Dublin specifically as been forecast at €3,153,665 for 2019 — compared to €1,158,136 in 2018.

Responding to a follow-up question from Deputy Smith regarding specific capital funding for maintenance and improvement works on the Shannon-Erne Waterway, Minister Madigan outlined that Waterways Ireland plans to complete 10.4km of Greenway enhancement towpath as well as advance plans for a full-scale Greenway along the 64km route.

Capital funding allocated for Shannon-Erne works is €125,000 for 2019, and Waterways Ireland is partnered with local authorities for three projects to the tuned of €311,500:

  • Development of a Blueway trail between Leitrim Village and Kilclare with Leitrim County Council (€162,000 WI contribution).
  • Development of a Blueway trail between Ballyconnell and Bellaheady Bridge with Cavan County Council (€124,500).
  • Development of forward planning for a trail extension from Aghalane to Lock 1 at Corraquill with Cavan County Council (€25,000).

The minister underlined that any requests for additional funding from Waterways Ireland in 2019 “can only be considered on their merits, taking into account the organisation’s strategic business objectives for the waterways network and the estimates and annual budgetary processes.”

Previously, Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin asked the minister the extent to which she expects an amicable resolution to issues between Waterways Ireland and traditional dwellers and recreational users of the Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

Minister Madigan replied that Waterways Ireland “continues to concentrate on boats which consistently remain in breach of the bye-laws”, and that the cross-border body “will consult with its stakeholders in the drafting of additional bye-laws to ensure proper regulation of craft on the waterways” following the signing into law last summer of the Heritage Act 2018.

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - Tools created by local Fermanagh craftsperson Albert Robinson were a key feature during this year’s World Canals Conference.

The tools, displayed in archive exhibition ‘Reflections, the Lasting Legacy of the Waterways’, brought to life the story of the strong men who powered the construction of Ireland’s canals system over 200 years ago.

Commissioned by the Directors General of Inland Navigation in 1813, the final section of the Royal Canal in Ireland to connect with the Shannon River was an extraordinary feat of ingenuity, engineering and sheer hard labour.

The contract to build the canal — complete with 21 locks, an aqueduct, 38 bridges, 40 tunnels, and numerous quays and harbours — was undertaken by Henry, Mullins and MacMahon in 1814 under the direction of the pre-eminent Irish engineer of that time, John Killaly.

Remarkably, that final section was completed within three short years at a cost of £198,110, covering a distance of some 24 1/2 miles.

What is most striking is that the tools available to the canal builders at this time, the world-famous ‘navvies’, were so basic.

Under the building contract, a detailed design specification was prepared for the manufacture of these tools to the company standard.

Local man Albert Robinson, a carpenter with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, meticulously recreated these tools – a hand barrow and a wheelbarrow – using the specific wood types, elm for strength and ash for flexibility.

Patterson’s Spade Mills, owned and run by the National Trust, is the last remaining spade mill in daily use in Britain and Ireland. They, too, faithfully recreated objects from the original drawings, producing a spade and shovel.

The tools were on display throughout the World Canals Conference — which attracted over 320 delegates from 12 countries across three continents over its three days last month — and provoked much positive comment and requests for further displays of this quality work.

Commenting on the unique collection of handcrafted tools, Dawn Livingstone, chief executive of Waterways Ireland, said: “Working in partnership with Fermanagh & Omagh District Council and the National Trust, we have brought back to life a remarkable era of canal construction and created objects that tell the story of the men who built the amazing waterways that we continue to enjoy today.

“I commend the skill of the craftspeople involved from Fermanagh & Omagh District Council and Patterson's Spade Mill and would encourage visitors to see this extraordinary collection for themselves.”

Speaking about the exhibition, chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Howard Thornton, said: “I am tremendously impressed by the craftsmanship shown by Albert in the recreation of the tools used in the construction of the final section of the Royal Canal.

“Albert’s ingenuity and craftsmanship have often been utilised in his work with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and I am delighted that his talent has been showcased to a wider audience at such a prestigious event.”

Nathan Domer, visitor experience officer with the National Trust, added that “this type of project is at the forefront of our core aims as a charitable organisation to conserve our heritage on land and on water for all to enjoy for ever, for everyone."

The tools and the original blueprint drawings in the exhibition can be viewed at Waterways Ireland HQ at 2 Sligo Road, Enniskillen weekdays from 9.30am to 5.15pm till Friday 9 November.

Published in Inland Waterways
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