The impact of sewer overflow discharges in the Enniskillen areas is have having a grave impact on water, as a result of chronic infrastructure failures, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has heard.

With the situation concentrated particularly in the area members agreed to write to the relevant ministerial departments seeking the matters are urgently addressed.

Funding cuts

The issue was raised in the chamber by Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh, Independent who referred to correspondence with Northern Ireland Water.

Quoting directly from a response, he said: “It’s very important I put this on the public record. The funding cuts have now have the potential to lead to cuts in service, reductions in water quality and poor environmental standards. The impact in particular on our council area is grave.

“There are 40 combined sewer overflows in our area, 27 of which have unsatisfactory intermittent discharges above the Northern Ireland Environment Agency safety thresholds. These discharges go directly into water courses in our council district and it is, I believe, why we are suffering such a rapid deterioration in the quality of our lakes and so on.”

Problem concentrated

Councillor O’Cofaigh added of the 27 worst in the category, 21 are in Enniskillen, showing: “The problem is concentrated where we have really chronic water infrastructure leading to pollution of our waterways.”

He proposed council write to the Minister for Infrastructure highlighting these facts and requesting urgent investment, along with a sum provided by the Department for Finance, of which at least some should go to address the chronic water infrastructure deficit, particularly for Enniskillen.

Seconding this, Councillor Emmet McAleer, Independent said he hoped there was a better response from the Minister for Infrastructure given her decision to sign off on the dredging of Lough Neagh.

Fully in support

Ulster Unionist Councillor Howard Thornton told members: “I’m fully in support of Councillor O’Cofaigh. We had an informal meeting with Erne Anglers and we are fully aware of the problems around Enniskillen. It’s having an adverse impact on everything. I throw my support behind this.”

Councillor Josephine Deehan, Independent was also in support and asked a letter is also sent to the Minister for Finance in respect of: “The gross underfunding of our infrastructure which has been going on for decades. We need a significant investment. We need to ensure proper resources are available to address these shocking deficits in this totally unacceptable situation.”

Sinn Fein’s Councillor Siobhan Currie was: “Glad and happy to support. We need to acknowledge there have be £1.6 billion cuts since the Tory government was in place. We don’t have finite resources and more should be spent on infrastructure, but also health, education and everything else.”

Party colleague Councillor Tommy Maguire also voiced support deeming the statistics: “Shocking, but not any great surprise to any of aware of water quality around Enniskillen. We are all aware of the issue of the Galliagh Shore debacle which has been left in a total environmental mess for so long.”

The proposal passed unanimously.