The owners of a dam in Newtownabbey have said that water levels are to be reduced after it was found to be “unsafe”.
Boghill Dam Ltd issued the response regarding the Boghill Dam after concerns had been voiced about the location.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Boghill Dam Ltd said: “Following rigorous assessments by an independent All Reservoirs Panel engineer, the Boghill Dam was found to be unsafe.
“As the dam owner, the company have a statutory duty of care to make the dam safe and comply with regulations. A range of options have been considered, with the only viable option being to reduce water levels in the dam.
“The company has undertaken engagement with a number of interested parties in the area to inform them of our plans and will continue to liaise with the Rivers Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to ensure compliance with the necessary regulations. Where works fall under planning requirements these will be applied for.
“We have also appointed an ecologist who is carrying out a number of studies to assess the environmental impact of this work. The measures are necessary to remove the risk and protect those homes situated downstream of the reservoir.”
The Newtownabbey Times was contacted by a number of residents who feared the dam close to Mallusk was to be emptied.
One concerned member of the public, Gerard McLaughlin alleged: “The 18-hectare body of water with its biodiversity and abundance of wildlife is due to be reduced to a mere puddle at best this autumn.”
Meanwhile, Six Mile Water Trust committee member, Michael Martin alleged that draining the dam would “lead to the destruction of one of our best wildlife habitats and fishery resources, remnants of the Ulster linen industry which have survived for hundreds of years”.
He added: “This small sheet of water has provided sport, peace and tranquillity for generations of anglers through the years. It is a fantastic local resource which is managed for wildlife and wild brown trout, a haven for many species of birds, mammals, amphibians and aquatic invertebrates as well as the flowers and shrubs which flourish on the shores and meadows.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs stated: “NIEA is aware of discussions around the future usage of Boghill Dam, however, no notification of works has been received.”
The dam’s owners are set to meet representatives from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to discuss the issue.
A spokesperson for the local authority said: “A representative acting on behalf of Boghill Dams Ltd has now requested a meeting with council officers to discuss their future plans for the dam. A date for this meeting has yet to be arranged.”
According to council, any works to drain the dam would require the consent of a number of agencies, including the Department for Infrastructure’s Rivers Agency.
A Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesman said: “Boghill Dam is a controlled reservoir for the purposes of reservoir legislation. The reservoir owner is responsible for reservoir safety.
“Any proposal to drain Boghill Dam would require the consent of DfI Rivers only in so far as the works would affect the drainage function of the adjacent watercourse.
“DfI Rivers has not consented to any such works. We have received no complaints from members of the public in relation to the alleged draining of the dam.”