POLLUTION IN CORK RIVERS AND LAKES: Green Party concerned with poor progress

9 September 2017
By Tom O’Sullivan

The Green Party in Cork has described as “concerning” the latest report by the Environmental Protection Agency into water quality. The report, published this week, showed no improvement or a deterioration in the water quality of the majority of Cork’s rivers and lakes.

Speaking after the report was published, Dr Gordon Reid, the Green Party representative in Bandon-Kinsale said:

“I’m concerned that more rivers and lakes have declined in quality than have improved, between the 2007-09 report and now: 418 have improved, but 499 have got worse. Over a longer timescale, the number of rivers with pure clean water has fallen from 500 in the late 1980s to only 21 locations today. We have to turn this around.”

“We still have a worryingly high number of rivers polluted by mercury or industrial contamination. Some persistent organic pollutants from industry are found at levels well above environmental quality standards. As for nitrogen pollution levels, in the Bandon River they’re actually rising, while they’re falling over most of the country. This might be from agricultural sources or from leaking septic tanks.”

“Nationally, we need to look to industry and land use for the solutions. Stricter regulation of industrial emissions. An end to the destruction of bogs and clear felling of forests. And increased grants to farmers for environmental protection schemes like native tree planting near watercourses. These helps to store carbon, protect biodiversity and manage floodwaters, as well as capturing nitrogen before it reaches the rivers.”

“It is not impossible to halt the decline but we will have to look to ourselves for the way to do it. The Danes, Dutch and Germans have ruined their waters. For once we have the chance of showing them what to do. We can start by setting the restoration of pristine clean rivers and lakes as a national goal. This needs every farmer, forester and land owner on board. We have 70,000km of rivers to look after, we want them to run clean and free of the pollution as was commonplace only a few decades ago.”

Oliver Moran (Green Party)

Dr Reid’s concerns were echoed by Oliver Moran, the party’s representative in Cork North Central, who criticised the government’s efforts on improving water quality:

“Unfortunately, we face a farcical situation in Cork and throughout Ireland. Two thirds of lakes around the Lee catchment, Cork Harbour and Youghal Bay are classified as being of poor ecological status and a third of those around the Bandon and Ilen, half of which have gotten worse. But instead of hundreds of millions going into protecting clean water, the government has to return hundreds of millions to householders because they made such a hames of water charges.”

“Some people laughed when the Green Party asked people to donate their water charges refunds to environmental causes. And I think it would be laughable, if it wasn’t so serious. In the 1980s over 500 Irish river sites were of pristine quality, now there are just 21. 72% of water in our taps has plastics in it. So, yes, I think people should go to the Irish Environmental Network website and give their money where the government shamefully won’t.”

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