Northern Ireland

Blue-green algae confirmed at Toome Canal

Toxic algae appears days after thick scum spotted at popular waterway

Blue Green Algae at Toome Canal
Blue Green Algae at Toome Canal

Environment chiefs have confirmed that blue-green algae has been found at a Co Antrim canal linked to Lough Neagh.

The potentially dangerous algae was first spotted at Toome Canal, which is linked to Lough Neagh, almost two weeks ago.

Water from the lake drains into the historic canal, which bypasses sluice gates located where the lough meets the River Bann near the village of Toome.

Earlier this month fears were raised after a thick scum appeared on the canal, which is popular with local walkers.

Concerns have been raised over a suspected pollution incident at Toome Canal
Concerns were raised after a thick white scum appeared on Toome Canal earlier this month

Environmental officials later suggested the unidentified substance is a result of the “breakdown of decaying organic material” that occurs in “nutrient rich rivers”.

Residents however expressed their shock at the appearance of the white and brown substance with one former commercial eel fisherman, who visits the canal every day, saying he has never seen anything similar in his lifetime.

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs officials have now confirmed that blue-green algae is present at the canal.

It has been reported that the potentially harmful algae has also been found at Cranfield Point and Raes Wood, both in Co Antrim.

The early return of the algae, which covered large parts of Lough Neagh last summer, will be of concern to environmentalists.

It is not known if a recent drop in the water levels in Lough Neagh are connected to its re-emergence.

A spokeswoman for Daera said “A Water Quality Inspector was tasked to investigate the green substance at Toome canal”.

“A sample was collected for analysis and was confirmed to contain blue-green algae (Microcystis spp).”

A dead fish at Toome Canal
A dead fish at Toome Canal