Steps DAERA are taking to address blue-green algae issues
A range of actions are underway in DAERA to consider how best to deal with algal blooms as they occur.
This includes emergency response, scientific research, and investigations into technological solutions to reduce existing algal blooms.
For information on updates to solutions and responses, see the Latest News section.
DAERA has set up group structures to consider the various elements of current algal blooms:
- EMFG-NIEA Blue Green Algae Operational Group
DAERA and NIEA initiated emergency planning measures in response to the number of reported incidents of blue-green algae. The team is led by officials from NIEA’s Resource Efficiency Division and the Department’s Marine and Fisheries Division and includes staff from pollution response, algae identification, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, bathing waters and fisheries management staff. This Operational Task Team has been dealing with the immediate operational issues including monitoring, inspections, testing, assessments and emergency pollution responses.
The team also liaises with councils, elected representatives, key stakeholders including DfI, Northern Ireland Water (NI Water), Food Standards Agency, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Public Health Agency (PHA), Lough Neagh Partnership, and other lough users including anglers and recreational users.
- Water Quality Steering Group
DAERA has also established a Water Quality Steering Group. Its work has included urgent engagement with other relevant government departments and agencies, including the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Department for Infrastructure and Northern Ireland Water, to review the scientific and other evidence available and identify further actions.
As part of this Group’s work, it also wishes to consider a range of short, medium and long term interventions.
If you have expertise in this area and would like your proposal to be considered by the Group, please email: Riverbasinplanning@daera-ni.gov.uk.
- Science Advisory Group (SAG)
This group is being established to support the work of the Water Quality Steering Group, chaired by the DAERA Chief Scientific Advisor. The primary purpose of the SAG is to provide independent scrutiny and advice on the science and evidence needed to deliver improvements in water quality, bringing regional and international experience.
- Blue-green algae inter-agency monitoring working group
This group is formed from officials involved in collecting data on impacted water bodies and bathing waters, from across multiple agencies: DAERA, NIEA, AFBI, FSA, NI Water and PHA. The purpose it to share knowledge from data collected to date, assess the ongoing monitoring needs and capacity, review the evidence gaps and feed back to the Water Quality Steering Group.