World Water Day is celebrated today, March 22 right across the world. Its aim is to focus attention on the importance of clean freshwater for our lives and our livelihoods.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) promotes World Water Day to raise awareness of the need to manage water resources locally, nationally and globally.
Although Ireland is a water-rich county, in that we get lots of rainfall, we rely heavily on a steady supply of clean water as is evidenced by the recent rationing of water in and around Dublin during storm Emma.
Globally agricultural production accounts for 70% of water usage and we have a large agricultural sector in Ireland that depends on a reliable source of clean water. We are the 5th largest exporter of beef in the world and it takes approximately 15,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef.
Regardless of the amount of water we have at our disposal, the real challenge is to keep it clean. Normal activities we take for granted can impact negatively on water quality including simple things like washing our clothes and cars to flushing our toilets.
In Ireland, nearly 50% of our rivers and over 50% of lakes are below the good quality standard required by the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).
In recent years we have experienced fierce and frequent storms that many associate with climate change. These severe weather events have caused widespread flooding and devastation to our countryside and urban areas impacting massively on people’s lives and livelihoods. The impact on farms and livestock has been particularly severe resulting in lack of fodder and reduced farm incomes.
The Waters and Communities Office in Carrick-on-Shannon was set up to support local communities develop ideas and projects to improve water quality in our streams, rivers and lakes.
If you would like to find out more about ‘green infrastructure’ or would like to get involved in protecting your local waterbody or to organising an event or activity you can contact your local community water officer, see www.watersandcommunities.ie for more information.