FAR STRONGER measures are needed to address the country’s water pollution crisis, the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) has argued.

SWAN is a network of twenty five of Ireland’s leading environmental organisations including the Kilrush based Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

Reacting to the EPA’s water indicator report, SWAN called on the Government to put in place far stronger measures to address Ireland’s water pollution crisis and tackle ongoing pollution from agriculture and forestry run-off, and discharges of raw and inadequately treated human sewage.

Forty five percent of rivers and forty six percent of lakes according to the report are still in an unhealthy condition and are not meeting legal standards for biological quality. 42% of rivers, and 17% of estuaries and coasts are exceeding healthy levels for nitrogen, while over a quarter of rivers (27%) and over a third of lakes (35%) have phosphorus concentrations above legal limits.

Average nitrates levels have shown no improvement across our rivers and have increased in our groundwaters, while nutrient loads have remained largely unchanged in our marine environment over four years.

Sinéad O’Brien, SWAN Coordinator, said: “Another year and another report from the EPA showing yet again the ongoing failure of the government to address our water crisis and to stem the tide of water pollution”.

She stated, “The lack of improvement in nitrate pollution is of very serious concern. The elevated levels kporfare mainly in the south, east and south east and are attributed to intensive agriculture. This shows that current measures to tackle pollution for intensive livestock farming are not working here and we need strong additional measures such as nutrient restrictions based on the carrying capacity of these already nutrient-saturated catchments and risk-assessments for intensive farms, with a licensing system similar to pigs and poultry farms to protect vulnerable rivers and estuaries. These measures would result in a marked reduction in agricultural water pollution.

“The high levels of phosphate concentrations are similarly coming from agriculture run-off but also from wastewater discharges. Government must commit to urgent investment to halt discharges of raw and inadequately treated sewage into all water bodies. The report is even more evidence of the urgent need for much more ambition and commitment from the government to finally fix our escalating water pollution crisis and restore our rivers, lakes and seas back to good health. We are calling for this to be reflected in the upcoming Water Action Plan,” Sinead concluded.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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