Safeguarding water supplies: Plan to protect a vital resource

Safeguarding water supplies: Plan to protect a vital resource

Not many metrics show our disregard for essential resources as graphically as ever-declining water quality does. 

Unsurprisingly, we have failed to meet self-imposed targets. 

A target of 13% improvement was set some years ago, but, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, that has not been met. 

The agency records that in the 1980s water quality at over 500 sites was “pristine”, but that has fallen to around 20 sites.

There are many reasons for this, but all of them are man-made. 

Industry, farming, tourism, forestry, new housing, private septic tanks and, all too often, inadequate local authority schemes struggling to keep pace all contribute. 

These issues are in play in Killarney, as they are in many other centres. 

There, the EPA, Irish Water, and the local authority are investigating an incident last year when sewage from the main sewer reached the River Flesk, after a blockage meant it bypassed the water treatment plant.

Setting aside the idea that a national park should be so misused, this case, despite unconvincing assurances that water quality in the lakes is at an acceptable level, points to the need for more rigorous planning for what seems inevitable growth. 

How that might be achieved in a country that rejected water charges, and which promises to have almost a million electric cars on the road in just over a decade, despite utterly inadequate preparation, is anyone’s guess.

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