Warning issued as blue-green algae identified at site of historic Belfast dam – The Irish News

Warning issued as blue-green algae identified at site of historic Belfast dam – The Irish News

Concerns have been raised about blue-green algae at a historic site in north Belfast.

The potentially dangerous algae was first spotted at Ligoniel Dam last week.

During flowering, the water becomes less clear and may appear green, blue-green or brown-green in color.

Algae appear as a result of factors such as rising temperatures and pollution, and when they bloom, they can produce harmful toxins.

Warning signs have been posted asking people and their pets to avoid the water.

Maria Morgan, CEO of the Ligoniel Improvement Association, said this is the first time the flowers have appeared at the Ligoniel location.

However, she criticised the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), saying the group had been left in limbo since the discovery.

Warning signs have been placed at the site.

“When we received the initial call from DAERA confirming the presence of the algae, we asked for guidance and they directed us to their website,” she explained.

“Despite numerous calls and emails requesting information, there has been no further engagement or support on the matter.

“In terms of waterways, it’s a limited area when it comes to where the algae could have come from, but we don’t have any insight into how it got there in the first place. We haven’t received any support and we’re asking for active engagement to address this.”

“People are really concerned. This is an open body of water that is home to a variety of birds and wildlife and we have had to contact the RSPB to come and see if they can help with this.

“We are also a small charity that organises community activities during the summer holidays, but at the moment we have no answers as to when or if these will be able to take place. We have been left in limbo.”

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, have been detected in several locations across Northern Ireland, including some lakes and rivers.

Belfast City Council has warned people and their pets to avoid contact with the affected water.

A spokesman said: “Belfast City Council has received notification from DAERA that ‘potentially toxic blue-green algae’ has been identified at Wolfhill Weirs in Ligoniel.

“We contacted the management associations of the upper and middle dams to advise them to install signage.

“Belfast City Council has also erected signage on land around the lower dam and Boodles Dam as a precaution.”

Belfast City Council has urged people visiting the site to take care

DAERA did not respond directly to the criticism, but released information available at the links below.

A list of confirmed locations, including Ligoniel, can be found here

DAERA advice can be found here