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Installation of water fountains mooted to tackle plastic waste

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Consultations will take place between Clare County Council and Irish Water to determine if water fountains can be installed across the county.

It comes following a notice of motion from Cllr Mary Howard at the December meeting of the local authority. She requested the putting in of fountains throughout Clare “considering the difficulty presented by single use plastics mostly water bottles”.

In October 2018, the European Parliament voted to ban certain single-use plastics and under the proposed directive, items such as plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates and cutlery would be banned by 2021, and 90 per cent of plastic bottle recycled by 2025.

Director of Physical Development, Carmel Kirby said that in support of the motion, they will “consult with Irish Water (IW) in the first instance to determine their policy on the matter and if there are any costs around connection fees or charges for water usage at public drinking water fountains. We will also consult with the Health Service Executive (HSE) in regard to any public health implications with respect to the inspection, cleaning and maintenance of any public drinking water fountains that may be installed”.

Howard explained she put forward the motion because of the increasing amount of plastic she is coming across during her work with the Ennis Tidy Towns group. “They were put in by Dublin City Council recently and I’m asking we consider it for all of the county, it will have a very quick knock on effect”.

In seconding the motion, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy stated, “It is something I believe we’re all opening our eyes on after many years of having our eyes closed. We need to consider making every effort to change our lifestyle and reduce the use of single plastics”.

Cllr Cathal Crowe praised the idea but noted “it is almost identical to one I had down a few years ago”, he recalled. “Two years ago we passed a resolution saying we would restore village pumps but nothing happened. Maybe the two could be merged”. His Fianna Fáil colleague, Alan O’Callaghan was not in favour of using water from the pumps, “Anything to keep plastic at a minimum at this day and age would be good. I don’t think the pumps would work, we cannot guarantee the water from any wells would be safe for human consumption”. Similarly, Kilrush councillor, Ian Lynch said their Tidy Towns group had been granted funds to put a pump in place twelve months ago “but nothing has happened”.

According to Cllr Johnny Flynn, “the problem exists from people making the lifestyle change to get away from soft drinks”. “Installation should be at schools and transport hubs, this is a good motion but the location should be where demand is greatest and where it would be most availed of,” the Fine Gael councillor added.

“We’re seeing the waste day in day out, we need to change our mindset”, Howard concluded. Members will be updated once the consultations have been completed early next year.

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