THE quality of water in the River Barrow was queried by Cllr Tom Mulhall during the Emo electoral area meeting.
Complaining that the water is always ‘dark brown’ and that after excessive rain and flooding it leaves a trail behind, Cllr Mulhall called on Laois County Council to investigate the water quality.
Senior Executive Engineer Orla Barrett outlined that water quality in the River Barrow and its tributaries are monitored in accordance with the South Eastern River Basin monitoring programmme. She explained all results are available on-line and she suggested the river is ‘always brown’.
Cllr Mulhall said he’d been contacted by landowners who said their grass never recovered if it was covered by flood water from the Barrow for three or more days.
Cathaoirleach Paul Mitchell said it was important to keep an eye on spreading activities at areas close to the Barrow and Ms Barrett said there were ‘guidelines to be adhered to’.
In relation to the maintenance of the Barrow, Cllr James Deegan tabled a motion seeking an update on the environmental impact assessment carried out for the Barrow Drainage Board and to provide details on how this will impact on carrying out works on the ground.
Ms Barrett said the report suggests that the employment of a full time ecologist would need to be considered to fulfil the mitigation measures.
“These measures place a huge onus on the Barrow Drainage Board in practical terms with regard to getting the work done on the ground,” she said.
She outlined that it has been decided, in order to meet the requirements of the report, no further works are to take place this year in the main channel of the Barrow, but general maintenance will contine on the tributaries.
Cllr Deegan suggested the Council ‘was working with one hand tied behind its back’.
He asked if an emergency situation arose, could the Council respond and breach regulations if necessary without having to go through a plethora of paper work.
Ms Barrett told him if an issue arises ‘the agencies drop everything and come straight away’. She said all of the river has been mapped.
Cllr Mulhall praised Cllr Deegan for putting forward ‘a good motion’. “I live close to the Barrow. There is a lot done and a lot more to do. I would drain against the flow and not with it.”