Irish Examiner view: We must act to tackle unsatisfactory water quality levels

The main threats to water quality are high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus arising from agriculture or wastewater discharges
Irish Examiner view: We must act to tackle unsatisfactory water quality levels

The Environmental Protection Agency reported that almost half of our rivers have unsatisfactory water quality levels due to high concentrations of polluting nitrogen.

Even in a week with so much to celebrate, our unrelenting misuse of natural resources cannot be ignored. 

This week’s report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that almost half of our rivers have unsatisfactory water quality levels due to high concentrations of polluting nitrogen is not news but it cannot be brushed aside either. 

The report found that overall water quality improved for 345 rivers across 2019 and 2020, but there was a decline across 230 rivers.

The main threats to water quality are high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus arising from agriculture or wastewater discharges. 

Nitrogen levels are too high in 47% of rivers, in a quarter of groundwater, and a fifth of estuarine and coastal water bodies. 

The nutrient is growing in concentration at 38% of river sites, while volumes of phosphate are increasing at a quarter of them.

Will we now ignore the huge, manmade threat inherent in this report until it is too late and water rationing becomes an issue? 

What then when we have to decide between water for cows, industry, or people?

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