Keeping Our Rivers Clean
Rivers can be polluted in lots of ways. A river that has been straightened out and dredged does not have the diversity of habitats needed to support a healthy fishery.
Excess fertilisers seeping from forestry or farmland into a river will cause the water chemistry to change in such a way that fish and other wildlife cannot live there. Leakage from septic tanks has the same effect, along with other sewage treatment works. Pesticides from forestry and agriculture pollute water too.
According to the latest figures, one third of Irish rivers are polluted. We need to make a really big effort to change the way things are done and stop polluting our waters if we are to restore healthy aquatic ecosystems and plentiful fish.
All of our activities, from building to farming, from industry to forestry, can be managed in a way that ensures the restoration of good water quality in Irish streams and rivers. The streams and rivers will benefit and society will continue to enjoy the services that they provide.
(Reference – Nature’s Way, Biodiversity Ecosystems in Ireland – An Taisce, 2010)
Pesticides and protection of drinking waters
Pesticides is a broad term, encompassing plant protection products (e.g. weedkillers), biocidal products and certain veterinary medicine products. Pesticides include; organic insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, nematocides, algicides, rodenticides, slimicides,related products and their relevant metabolites, degradation and reaction products.
Depending on concentration, dose, the individual pesticide and its toxicity, long term exposure to pesticides can increase the risk of developmental and reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption, immune-system disruption, development of certain cancers and impaired nervous system function.
The European Communities (Sustainable Use) of Pesticides Regulation 2012 prohibits the use of pesticides near drinking water abstractions zone ranging from 5m to 200m depending on the type of abstraction point or borehole.
Water Source Distance
|Abstraction point of any surface waters, borehole, spring or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption in a water scheme supplying 100 m3 or more of water per day or serving 500 or more persons||200 m|
|Abstraction point of any surface waters, borehole, spring or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption in a water scheme supplying 10 m3 or more of water per day or serving 50 – 500 persons||100 m|
|Abstraction point of any surface waters, borehole, spring or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption in a water scheme supplying 1-10 m3 of water per day or serving 10-50 persons||25 m|
|Abstraction point of any surface waters, borehole, spring or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption in a water scheme supplying 1m3 or less of water per day or serving 10 or less persons||5 m|
Drinking water monitoring results for Ireland show that a number of herbicides commonly used on grassland, such as MCPA, are being detected more frequently in recent years. Careless storage, handling or use of pesticides can easily cause breaches of the legal limit for pesticides in drinking water
How do pesticides get into drinking water?
Pesticides can enter water bodies from:
- Point sources (mainly in the farm or farmyard) – leaks from storage areas; spills or drips from handling operations such as mixing, filling and washing; or
- Diffuse sources (mainly in the field) – inputs arising during or after application from processes such as spray drift, runoff and drainage.