CONCERNS have been raised after blue-green algae has taken over Ligoniel Dam in North Belfast.

The algae was first spotted last Wednesday. Algae can cause skin irritation and sickness in people who come into contact with it, but it is extremely toxic to pets, livestock and wildlife.

A list of blue-green algae locations across the North on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) now includes Ligoniel Dam.

A sign erected at the site from Belfast City Council warns people of 'toxic blue-green algae in bloom at the waterbody'.


"Make sure you and your pets avoid the water and waterbody," the sign reads.

Maria Morgan, from the Wolfhill Centre which owns the Dam, said she has been unable to speak to anyone from DAERA about the outbreak.

"As owners of Ligoniel Dam, we have been left completely in limbo," she explained. "We have been trying to get in contact with DAREA, despite numerous phone calls and emails.

"People here are very concerned. Ligoniel Dam is a beauty spot and it is used by local community groups for activities which will not now be able to take place. This is the first time algae has been spotted here."

Last year, Lough Neagh made world headlines after it was overcome with an outbreak of algae.

Sinn Féin councillor Ryan Murphy said: “I’ve spoken to Belfast City Council officials who have initially placed warning signs at Boodles Dam as a precautionary measure as tests are conducted for blue-green algae.

“However there’s confirmation of this dangerous algae already at Wolfhill Dam and I’m appealing to the public to exercise extreme caution at both sites.

“This is a very popular area for public recreation so children  and  pets should be kept away from the water.

“Wolfhill Dam is under the management of the LIA Ligoniel Improvement association who are currently seeking information and support from public bodies.

"Of course the discovery of the algae is worrying and all efforts must now be made to address and combat this problem and I’ll do all I can to assist in the time ahead.”

A Belfast City Council spokesperson said: “We received notification from DAERA last week that ‘potentially toxic blue green algae’ had been identified at the Wolfhill Dams at Ligoniel.

"We contacted the management associations for the upper and middle dams to advise them to erect signage and have erected signage on land surrounding the lower Dam and Boodles Dam as a precaution.”

When contacted by the North Belfast News, DAERA directed us to a section on their website about blue-green algae.