WWT Report on the Lough

In 2005 the BEG commissioned the WWT to produce an extensive report on the state of the Lough. Everything from birds, plantlife and the water quality was tested. The map below shows some of the points that raised most concren.
map of the  black lough detailing pollution points, walkways and trouble spots

  • new walkwayProposed new walkway
  • old walkwayExisting walkway
  • inflowing pollutionUnidentified inflow pipes
  • water outflowOutflow
  • unidentified landUnidentified Land
  • carparkCarpark

Main Causes for concern

  1. Pollution from household waste
    • phosphorous and suspended solids in all samples
    • high level of nitrate from the inlet pipe in SW corner
    • high levels of phenanthene
    • presence of blue-green algae
    • shift away from pollution sensetive species of invertebrates as recorded in 1970
  2. Neglect of water controls
  3. Intensive birdfeeding (with bread)
  4. Litter
  5. Slurry spreading upstream from the Lough
  6. Poor road drainage seeping into the lough
  7. Erosion of the island
  8. Lack of strategic plan for the lough
  9. Conflict between education and recreation


A range of options exist to improve the overall nature conservation of the Lough. The WWT recommended the following:

  1. Invite landowners to join the group and work together to promote cammon interests
  2. Reduce the source of nutrient input - reducing the risk to flora, fauna and human life
  3. Promote and encourage good farming practice, reducing nutrien run-off. This will improve overall water quality.
  4. Monitor vegetation and invertebrae by surveying in July/August on an annual basis. This will allow better management procedures
  5. Stocking of fish should be strongly discouraged
  6. Continue the existing management of aquatic vegetation
  7. Create a dedicated bird feeding area
  8. Fence off some areas of the island - reducing damage by wildfowl
  9. Remove litter daily
  10. Create a pond dipping platform - safe access for kids and parents
  11. Produce a management plan

For the marsh area (above the Lough)

  1. Encourage no drainage
  2. No cutting or grazing
  3. Plant areas of scrub on perimiter to encourage nesting and reduce disturbance
  4. Remove scrub from within marsh area - protecting the habitat
  5. Contact Dog Warden if dog fouling occurs


In conclusion the Wetlands Advisory Service said:
“… the Ballysaggart (black) Lough currently supports a good diversity of aquatic, marginal and emergent plants… and important numbers of breeding and wintering birds. However it is clear that the Lough is experiencing potential water quality problems. It is essential that the sources are identified and addressed… in order to maintain and enhance the important biodiversity present in and around the Lough.”

Progress Made

The vision and plans for the new centre is in place and we are engaging the community to raise support and funding for this.
Our new management plan plots the future course and sets the agenda for the future.
A more recent water quality report in 2007 indicates that there has been an improvement to water quality.
New European Legislation safeguarding against slurry pollution is now in place, which should see improvement in water quality throughout the area.

Other tests …

Report into water quality

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) is a chemical procedure for determining how fast biological organisms use up oxygen in a body of water. It is usually performed over a 5 day period at 20 C. It is used in water quality management and assessment, ecology and environmental science. BOD is not an accurate quantitative test, although it could be considered as an indication of the quality of a water source.
BOD Level (in ppm) Water Quality

Black Lough BOD score = Extremely High

Polluted water

The Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) is a procedure for measuring water quality using species of macroinvertebrates as biological indicators.
BMWP Score Category Interpretation

Black lough BMWP score is 89
"Good Clean but Slightly Impacted". The major cause of this impaction is unidentified pollution flowing into the water. Poor drainage, particularly from the Eglish Road is washing not only sediment of vehicle exhaust fumes but also road surface materials, tarmac, grit and other sedimentary waste into the eastern side of the lough, where phenanthrene levels in one sample were double the threshold level.

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