Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland is being plagued by toxic algae blooms, prompting concern from locals and environmentalists.
Love Our Lough, a group of concerned citizens, staged a wake for Lough Neagh on Sunday, September 17 to draw attention to the growing problem.
Ahead of Sunday's wake for Lough Neagh, Louise Taylor of Love Our Lough said that the event was meant “to encourage people to come together to support each other through the crisis, the ecological crisis and public health emergency we are becoming aware of but many have known about for years.”
Taylor encouraged potential attendees to consider their own personal health before attending the wake.
Speaking at Sunday's event, Taylor said: "This is grief, this is loss, this is death, this is destruction.
"We at Love Our Lough decided to put on this event hoping that it would serve as a wake-up call for the people of Lough Neagh, the people in the community.
"This is very serious and you've known that it's been serious for decades and nothing has been done.
"We would like you to sign the petition, we would like you to become educated, and we would like you to organize, and you do that by starting Save Our Lough groups or Love Our Lough groups, whatever you want to call it.
"Make sure that children are part of those conversations. Make sure that the elders are part of those conversations. Make sure that women are involved in those conversations.
"But you must organize and you must start community groups. We cannot leave this to our services. We cannot leave this to our politicians. We need to treat this like the emergency crisis it is and we need to come together."
Thank you Anna for sending this in. 💚💔🦢💔💚
Thank you so much Anna for sending in this recording. “This is grief, this is loss, this is death .. “ 💚💔🦢💔💚Posted by Love Our Lough on Sunday, September 17, 2023
Lough Neagh, the largest lake on the island of Ireland and in the UK, supplies 40% of Northern Ireland's drinking water. It is currently polluted with a deadly cyanobacteria that is choking the area through what appears to be a blue-green algae bloom, The Belfast Telegraph reports.
NI Water said on September 15: "We can assure our customers that the water supplied from all our Water Treatment Works, which includes water abstracted from Lough Neagh, is safe to drink and use as normal."
Earlier in September, Gerry Darby, Manager of Lough Neagh Partnership, provided a first-hand look at the "alarming devastation" on the lake caused by the recent algae bloom.
Darby described the situation as an "ecological apocalypse."
"The whole ecosystem has just totally went out of balance here," he said, adding that a combination of factors, including climate change and invasive species, has led to the current situation.
Darby said the Partnership and stakeholders have been lobbying for about 20 years for "some interdepartmental structure and management plan for the lough" though nobody has taken up the request.
"Now we can see the consequences of that neglect," he said.
In his video filmed from the lake, Darby pointed to a dead swan in the water which he said "has clearly died of the poisoning of the blue-green algae.
"[This is] Really, really, really bad. I cannot express how bad the condition of the lough and the canal is."
In this video, Gerry Darby, Manager of Lough Neagh Partnership, gives us a first-hand look at the alarming devastation caused by the recent algae bloom on Lough Neagh. Join us as he makes an urgent plea to the government for immediate actionPosted by Lough Neagh Partnership on Friday, September 8, 2023
Compounding the issue is Northern Ireland's lack of functioning government.
On Tuesday, Colum Eastwood, head of Northern Ireland's SDLP, said that the party "submitted a petition to recall the Assembly to address the ecological crisis on Lough Neagh." The petition can be seen here.
The SDLP has submitted a petition to recall the Assembly to address the ecological crisis on Lough Neagh.
This is bigger than any of us or any of our agendas. I hope every party will support the urgent action needed to save the Lough.— Colum Eastwood 🇺🇦 (@columeastwood) September 19, 2023
A public meeting regarding Lough Neagh is being held tomorrow, September 20, at Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy.