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Displaying items by tag: water quality

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue was joined by Ministers of State Pippa Hackett and Malcolm Noonan on the shores of Lough Ennell on Thursday (7 March) to officially launch the €60 million Water EIP ‘Farming for Water’ project aimed at improving water quality at local, catchment and national levels.

The project is a collaborative approach between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, working in partnership with the agri-food industry to improve water quality.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will support the project through the provision of funding of €50 million for participating farmers, co-funded by the National Exchequer and the EU, with the objective of involving 15,000 farmers in priority areas nationally. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will provide the administrative support for the project to the value of €10 million.

Through this European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) project, an operational group has been established by the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), in partnership with Teagasc, Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) and Bord Bia, and with the support of other stakeholders, to work in partnership with farmers in the implementation of a number of targeted actions at farm level to improve water quality.

Minister McConalogue said: “This government wants to improve water quality and also wants to ensure Ireland and Irish farmers secure a nitrates derogation from 2026. Today’s investment of €60 million is proof of the Government’s commitment to support farmers in their efforts to achieve those dual aims.

“The future of our farms, and the families on those farms, are largely dependent on successful water quality outcomes and I am absolutely confident farmers will not be found wanting in delivering those outcomes. The success of this EIP will be a source of inspiration, encouraging more leadership, more action and more engagement with water initiatives across all farm types and farm sizes.

“This project is a key component in our ongoing efforts to improve water quality and the sustainability of our agricultural practices at a national level, but it is just one element. It is part of a suite of measures to bolster those efforts. This includes a national multi-actor Water Quality Advisory Campaign, led by Teagasc as well as increased compliance and enforcement activity across my own Department and the Local Authorities.

Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett said: “As minister with responsibility for both EIPs and biodiversity, I am delighted to support this flagship EIP, which demonstrates this Government’s commitment to maintaining and improving water quality in Ireland.

“This is our largest EIP to date, both in terms of funding and in its ambition in relation to the role that agriculture can play in improving water quality and, by extension, the benefits for nature and biodiversity that will accrue as a result.”

Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan said: “Our rivers, lakes, estuaries and bays are at the heart of what we value about Ireland’s environment. Improving the quality of their waters is vital — not just for nature and wildlife, but also for public health and wellbeing — and it’s by working together that we will yield the greatest results.

“This unique and innovative collaboration brings the farming community, the food processing industries, LAWPRO, ASSAP and the two government departments together with a single aim. It is testament to the commitment of Government departments and the agricultural sector in taking ownership of their role in improving water quality.”

Anthony Coleman, director of LAWPRO, representing the Operational Group said: “This Water EIP represents a significant opportunity for us to engage and collaborate with the agricultural sector to deliver improvements in water quality throughout the country. We will be working hand-in-hand with farmers to introduce more nature-based solutions as well as supporting community organisations to work on delivery of water quality measures that will benefit our environment, economy and society.

“This water stewardship initiative follows catchment science principles and focuses on multiple benefits, including climate and biodiversity. I am delighted that this project is now underway and we have a team in place who will work in conjunction with our partners Teagasc, ASSAP, Dairy Industry Ireland and other stakeholders.”

Published in Environment

Water quality and the marine scored the lowest in a “report card” commissioned by Friends of the Earth on Government progress on its own climate and environmental promises.

This year’s grading of “C plus” represents “moderate progress” and is a “small improvement” on the C grading awarded last year.

The grading was carried out for Friends of the Earth by experts who annually assessed the Government’s implementation of commitments in the Programme for Government.

The group said there was a significant improvement in the “Energy” category, one of nine subject areas.

The Government’s highest scores came in the categories of “Waste and Circular Economy” (7.5 - down from 8.5 last year), “Energy” (7 - a significant improvement from 4 last year) “Buildings” (7 - up from 6 last year) and “Air Quality” (7 - same as last year).

The lowest scoring categories were “Agriculture and Forestry (4 - same as last year) where the Government is now “flirting with failure”, the group says, and “Water and Marine (5 - marginally up from 4.5 last year).

Commitments on drinking and waste water are “in danger of not being achieved by this Government”, the group says.

It notes that Ireland’s water quality worsened in 2022 compared to 2021, with dangerous nitrate and phosphate concentrations in many of Ireland’s river sites, estuarine, and coastal water bodies.

Chair of the assessment panel, Dr Cara Augustenborg from UCD said that “we’re accustomed to hearing nothing but bad news when it comes to Ireland’s environmental record, but taking a deep dive inside the Government’s work since 2020 provides clear evidence that progress is being made to improve Ireland’s environmental health in most areas”.

“It’s frustrating that this work is not yet apparent in people’s lives and we’re not seeing the transformational changes needed to address the climate and biodiversity emergency,”she said.

“However, if the Government doubles down on their efforts through intense and sustained effort, we could be living in a more sustainable Ireland within the decade. The question is whether or not the Government’s will is strong enough to accomplish this in the short time remaining.”

Dr Paul Deane from University College Cork said the review “gives us cause for hope but not a reason for celebration”.

“Ireland’s greenhouse gas pollution has reduced marginally this year, but we are still massively addicted to fossil fuels. However, we are seeing a positive foundation for a cleaner future being put in place,” he said.

Dr Diarmuid Torney from Dublin City University said that “three years on from the formation of the Government, we see a mixed picture”.

“Although a good foundation is being laid, and there is solid progress in some areas, overall delivery is slower than I would have liked to see approximately two-thirds of the way through the Government’s term in office,” he said.

Oisín Coghlan, Friends of the Earth chief executive who commissioned the assessment, said that it showed that “time is running out fast for this Government to fulfil its climate and environmental commitments”.

“The coalition leaders need to be upfront with people that a certain amount of inconvenience and disruption is unavoidable now, in order to prevent climate chaos and destruction down the line,” he said.

“My fear is party leaders will become more timid as elections approach, when what we need now is honesty and courage,” Coghlan said.

Published in News Update
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Nearly 60 people fell ill after taking part in the swimming portion of events at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Sunderland at the weekend.

As the Guardian reports, at least 57 triathletes out of some 2,000 who took part in the open sea swimming portion off Roker Beach in the north-east of England came down with symptoms that ran from upset stomachs to diarrhoea.

While organisers British Triathlon say its water quality testing results passed acceptable standards, an Environment Agency sampling from nearby waters three days before the event reportedly showed highly elevated level of E. coli.

The Roker Beach area on the North Sea coast has been at the centre of a lengthy dispute between campaigners and the UK government over sewage discharges, though the local water supplier denies there was any incident that would have affected water quality over the weekend.

No such illnesses were reported after the 93rd Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race, which took place on Sunday (6 August). Clodagh Sweeney of Sandycove was first among the women, while Colm Leonard of the Phoenix Swimming Club won the men’s race. Full results can be found HERE.

Published in Sea Swim

State support of €60 million for the improvement of water quality at local, catchment and national levels has been announced.

Through a WATER European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project, the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) with Teagasc and Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) will work with farmers on an individual basis to improve water quality in Ireland’s waterways.

This will be achieved through the adoption of innovative practices in nutrient management, the application of nature-based Natural Water Retention Measures (NWRM) and other measures at farm level following the principles of integrated catchment management.

As an innovation partnership, measures will be designed and targeted specifically to address local challenges.

This is a collaborative approach between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in partnership with industry.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, will support the project through the provision of technical assistance and funding of €50 million for participating farmers, co-funded by the National Exchequer and the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy. It expects to target 15,000 farmers in priority areas nationally.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will provide administrative support and funding of €10 million. The Water EIP project, which will run until the end of 2027, has been awarded to the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO).

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue said: “The agri-food industry is working together to improve water quality. However, there is a need to recognise farmers that invest above and beyond regulatory requirements to address specific localised water quality issues.

“This is the largest funding that my department has provided to a single EIP, recognising the importance of this project to enhancing sustainable agricultural practices and contributing in a significant way to improving water quality at a national level.”

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien added: “I am delighted to join in this announcement…and particularly to note the collaborative process undertaken between the two departments in developing the Water EIP. The Water EIP is a highly significant project that will promote the adoption of innovative best practice in nutrient management and address a critical gap in measures to protect and restore water quality.”

Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, noted: “The health and quality of our water is reflective of the health of our wider ecosystem, and pollution comes in many forms — with agriculture having a major influence.

“LAWPRO’s winning proposal will take a locally based approach, combining farm level actions with landscape features to deliver on the programme’s core aim of improving water quality, and also to provide a range of ecosystem co-benefits.

‘We know that the LAWPRO model is a model that works, for farmers and for water quality, so I am hugely excited to see what we can achieve by rolling it out at scale over the coming years.”

Minister of State with responsibility for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan also welcomed the funding announcement. “It will provide direct support to farmers and a vital link between the EPA’s catchment science, ASSAP advice and effective farm-level measures to protect and restore our waterways,” he said.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Water quality activists have alleged that people are “getting ill” after swimming at beaches in Northern Ireland, as BelfastLive reports.

Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage suggests that the public is being let down by NI’s water testing system, which currently only runs in the summer months and is limited to 26 beaches.

“It’s time something was done about…the overspills from NI Water and the poor water quality in Northern Ireland,” said Surfers Against Sewage’s local rep Declan McMenamin.

“It’s up to NI Water, DAERA and those involved to start taking it more seriously because people are getting ill. We want answers.”

A spokesperson for NI Water confirmed that the body “does not keep a record of the number of occasions, duration, or actual volumes of overflows into public waterways from its sewerage system”.

BelfastLive has much more on the story HERE.

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Local authorities need to take a more strategic approach to tackling the decline in water quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says.

A report by the EPA shows that less than half of the 620 performance assessments undertaken across 20 national environmental enforcement priorities met the required standard in 2021.

The EPA’s office of environmental enforcement director Dr Tom Ryan said that “local authorities have a fundamental role to play in protecting the environment within their counties, and their performance in that role needs to improve”.

“The local environmental challenges are great,” he said, commenting on the report analysing local authority performance.

“The water quality in our rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters is in decline, and there are concerning localised issues that are impacting negatively on the air we breathe,” Dr Ryan said.

“The segregation of waste streams, which is so critical to supporting materials reuse in the development of a circular economy, is not as good as it needs to be,” he said.

“Local authorities need to have a more strategic approach to addressing these issues within their counties so as to protect people’s right to the enjoyment of a healthy environment,” he said.

“While local authorities are engaged in a great deal of enforcement activity, they need to have a better focus on priority environmental issues and increase or escalate enforcement action where required,” he said.

“Our water quality is in decline with just over half of surface waters (rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters) in satisfactory condition,”Dr Ryan continued.

He said that agriculture is one sector having a negative impact, due nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus run-off into waterways.

“ Local authorities must target farm inspections in these areas. The proper use of fertilisers and the correct management of slurry will benefit both the farmer and the environment,”he said.

The EPA report shows that the scale of environmental enforcement work carried out by local authorities is “significant”.

It documents how over 500 local authority staff handled almost 81,000 complaints and carried out over 205,000 environmental inspections in 2021.

The EPA notes that this is the first year of the revised “Local Authority Performance Framework”, which assesses the effectiveness of inspection activities in targeting key environmental issues.

The assessment is based on 20 priorities, and measures how local authority actions deliver environmental outcomes - such as better segregation of household and commercial waste, cleaner air through controls on solid fuel sales and minimising risks to water quality from farming activities, the EPA says.

This also requires a follow-up and “closure of issues detected so that real environmental improvements are achieved”, the EPA says.

EPA office of environmental enforcement programme manager David Pollard said that air and noise enforcement “continues to have the lowest level of dedicated resources within local authorities”.

Pollard said there is a “need for increased enforcement efforts to improve segregation of domestic, commercial, construction and demolition waste to improve reuse and recycling of materials”.

He also said it is “crucial that local authorities tackle air pollution issues by making sure that only approved solid fuels are sold”.

“The Focus on Local Authority Environmental Enforcement – Performance Report 2021” report is available on the EPA website.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Sustainability researchers in Galway have called for greater public engagement in improving water quality in Ireland’s lakes and rivers.

Writing for RTÉ Brainstorm, the researchers from the University of Galway’s Ryan Institute say they conducted interviews with a variety of stakeholders, with a focus on the West of Ireland, to solicit their views.

A picture emerged of an Irish public who rediscovered the country’s natural environment while “trying to find mental solace from the pandemic lockdown” only to in many cases be confronted by “chronic changes in the environment” — from algal blooms in Lough Corrib to a decline in angling catches and increase in invasive species.

The researchers also emphasised the lack of water quality monitoring beyond coastal bathing areas — a significant gap when people are increasingly using lakes and rivers for sports and recreation.

“Responsibility for monitoring is divided between different public entities with no clear breakdown of who does what,” they say. “Because of this, people were unsure who to contact to report water quality-related concerns.”

RTÉ Brainstorm has more on the story HERE.

Published in Environment
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None of Northern Ireland’s rivers, lakes or coastal waters has achieved a “good overall” status for water quality in a new report, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The Water Framework Directive Statistics Report from NI’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) highlights a marked decline in water quality across the region, with no water bodies achieving good or above in 2021

This is compared to just three years ago, when 141 of Northern Ireland’s river water bodies classified as good or high. The 2018 rate for lakes was five out of 21, and for coastal waters 10 out of 25.

Stricter standards have prompted the lower ratings, the report explains, with DAERA now assessing water bodies for the presence of ubiquitous, persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (uPBT) substances.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

A “giant-size” towel collage has been spread out at Blackrock’s Seapoint shoreline in Dublin Bay on Saturday to highlight the need for action over Dublin Bay water quality.

Open water swimmers suspended hostilities over whether dry robes or towels were more socially acceptable to participate in the peaceful initiative - at a social distance.

SOS Dublin Bay, which organised the gesture, is calling for increased testing of bathing water quality.

It is seeking real-time reporting of results “in recognition of all-year-round bathing which has become more common in Dublin”.

SOS Dublin Bay chairman Gerry Jones said record numbers of people were now swimming in the bay all year round.

He said that “local authorities need to recognise this reality by ensuring that bathing water quality readings are provided on an ongoing basis to the general public”.

He said there should be regular publication of all appropriate public health guidance particularly when the water is polluted.

“Thousands of people are now taking to the waters in Dublin Bay every day, yet we are simultaneously witnessing the appalling spectacle of raw sewage being dumped into the bay at Ringsend after heavy periods of rainfall,” he said.

A scene at the Forty Foot bathing place during Winter 2020A scene at the Forty Foot bathing place at the southern tip of Dublin Bay during Winter 2020

“We can’t put people’s health on hold while we wait for a promised upgrade of the Ringsend sewage treatment plant which won’t happen till at least 2025,” he said.

There are “ creative interim solutions” at to prevent Irish Water dumping sewage into the Liffey estuary and onward into the bay, he said, and SOS Dublin Bay aims to publish several proposals in the new year.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acknowledged the risks to water quality after periods of heavy rainfall which result in overflow from storm drains and from the Ringsend sewage treatment plant, among other sources.

Rainwater run off at Sandycove Point on Dublin Bay from Afloat Magazine on Vimeo.

However, it says it is awaiting a review of the EU Bathing Water Quality directive before recommending any legislative changes to allow for greater frequency of , and more detailed scope of, testing here.

Under current regulations, local authorities are only required to test bathing water quality once a month between May and September. Some local authorities test more frequently, but results are slow.

The tests under the EU bathing water quality directive are limited to E.coli (EC) and Intestinal enterococci (IE), based on World Health Organisation research.

Dublin Bay Swimmers Call Truce in Dry Robe Wars in Support of a Cleaner Dublin BayDublin Bay swimmers call a truce in Dry Robe wars and lay out their towels in support of a cleaner Dublin Bay  - 18611 is the current number of signatures to the online petition for a cleaner bay Photo: One minute forty

University College Dublin (UCD) microbiologist Prof Wim Meijer explains that most E.coli are harmless.

However, VeroToxigenic E coli strains, contracted from ingesting water contaminated with animal faeces or from undercooked meat or contaminated salads, produce a powerful toxin which can cause “a range of symptoms, from bloody diarrhoea to kidney failure and may cause fatalities”

Prof Dearbháile Morris, director of NUI Galway (NUIG) Ryan Institute’s Centre for One Health, said current testing systems are outdated, as they only look for the total number of e-coli in a 100ml sample and not the detail.

A system for live bathing water monitoring named EU SWIM is at an advance stage, co-ordinated by UCD computer scientist Prof Gregory O’Hare and involving Prof Meijer.

The SOS petition is here

Published in Dublin Bay

Beaches and the quality of bathing waters in Ireland is continuing to improve, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA director Dr Micheál Lehane said local authorities must remain vigilant to ensure public health was protected and continue to identify and fix sources of water pollution.

The EPA's Bathing Water in Ireland 2019 report found that 95% - 140 out of 147 - of bathing waters assessed met or exceeded the minimum required, slightly up on 2018.

Three new bathing waters were classified as excellent or good, while the water at five beaches was classified as poor.

Merrion Strand in Dublin Bay has been declassified after five years at poor status.

Three bathing waters, all in Dublin, were classified for the first time; Forty Foot Bathing Place and White Rock Beach, which were both classified as excellent and Sandycove Beach, which was classified as good.

RTE News has more and reported that under Phase One of the lifting of Covid19 restrictions, beaches along with other outdoor amenities are open.

Published in Coastal Notes
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