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Inadequate Monitoring Of Private Water Supplies Putting Health At Risk

EPA warns that poorly constructed wells and inadequate monitoring of private water supplies are putting health at risk.

One million people in Ireland get their drinking water from a private supply and many more persons, drink water from private supplies during their daily lives.

E. coli was found in 62 small private water supplies serving commercial buildings or public buildings during 2018.

E. coli can cause illness. In a small number of cases it can result in severe and long-term kidney failure. Reported cases of VTEC , a dangerous form of E. coli, increased in 2018.

Many private supplies are not on the local authorities’ register and those that are registered were not monitored sufficiently to ensure safe drinking water and to protect human health.

A report focusing on the quality of private water supplies in Ireland for 2018 was released today [15th January 2020] by the EPA. The report found that the quality of drinking water in private supplies, which are mostly sourced from wells, is poorer than that in publicly-sourced supplies.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Dr Tom Ryan, (Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement) said: “We are concerned about the poor quality of drinking water in private supplies serving commercial or public activities such as crèches, nursing homes and hotels. Where this water comes from poorly constructed wells, there is a high risk of contamination during heavy rain. It is worrying that many of these supplies are not being monitored, as consuming contaminated water poses a serious health risk to consumers, particularly vulnerable people such as the young or elderly.”

Monitoring carried out in 2018 showed that commercial businesses (e.g. hotel, B&B, pub), or public buildings (e.g. schools, crèches, campsites) that get their water from a well or other private source are at greater risk of being contaminated than public water supplies. The report highlights that more than 60 of these private supplies were found to be contaminated with human or animal waste, at least once during 2018. Cases of VTEC infection – which can be contracted due to consuming water contaminated by animal waste – continued to rise with over 1,000 reported cases in 2018. Ireland continues to have the highest incidence of VTEC infection in Europe.

Concluding, Mr Andy Fanning (Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement) said: “With this number of reported cases of VTEC in Ireland, it is more important than ever that business owners and homeowners who use a well for their water supply, get their supply tested regularly, especially after rainfall. Local authorities must ensure that supplies are registered, monitored and that action is taken by water suppliers to remedy any issues identified to make sure that public health is not being put at risk.”


Wishing Our Readers & Supporters A Happy & Prosperous New Year In 2020.

Let’s Drink a Toast to Days Gone By!

Auld Lang Syne,” is a song posing a rhetorical question and whose well-known melody is synonymous with each New Year’s Eve. This Scots-language poem, later set to the tune of a traditional folk song, was first published by poet Robert Burns, which he attributed to having obtained from an old man, but noting that it was a traditional Scottish song.

Translated literally, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ means ‘old long since’, or for ‘olden times’, and is traditionally used to bid farewell to the old year; at the stroke of midnight on each New Year’s Day. The International Scouting movement in some countries also use this musical refrain to close their large gatherings at national or international levels.

Lyrics hereunder, attempt to translate from the lesser known old Scottish dialect.

Auld Lang Syne

Written by Scottish Poet Robert [“Rabbie”] Burns in 1788

Should auld (old) acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne? (old times)

For auld lang syne, my jo, (my dear),
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be (buy) your pint-stoup! (Cup)
and surely I’ll be (buy) mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne. [Repeat Chorus]

We twa hae (We two have) run about the breas (the slopes).
and pou’d the gowans fine; (and picked the daisies fine)
But we’ve wander’d mony (many) a weary fit, (weary foot),
sin’ (since) auld lang syne. [Repeat Chorus]

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn, (two have paddled in the stream),
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d (broad have roared)
sin’ (since) auld lang syne. [Repeat Chorus]

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! (friend)
and gie’s (give me a hand) o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught, (a good-will draught)
for auld lang syne. [Repeat Chorus]

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you, our many readers and supporters, a Very Happy and a Prosperous New Year in 2020.

“Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo arís.”
[Translated from the Irish: “May we be alive this time next year!”]


Can You Identify This Thurles Area Bird Species?

The Green Linnet (Or Finch)
“One have I marked, the happiest guest, in all this covert of the blest:
Hail to Thee, far above the rest, in joy of voice and pinion.”

[Extract from a poem by William Wordsworth – ‘The Green Linnet.’]

Identify the Species Please! [Photographer G. Willoughby]

This rather shy feathered friend appeared today, December 28th, for the first time on a bird table in Templetuohy, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Persons with an intimate knowledge of birds (Those of the feathered kind I should stress) might like to offer some insight as to its particular species.

The species shown appears to have the beak (bill) of a seed eating bird, since its beak is thicker and stronger than other types of beaks. This could indicate that the species is a member of the Finch family. Finches are the most obvious members with this type of bill, characterised by a broad triangular shape with strong upper and lower mandibles, thus enabling the bird to break into the shells of various seeds.

There are at least 22 species of Finches wintering in Ireland, with more than 140 species, to be found in Europe, Africa, America (North & South) and in Asia.

Could this be a female duller less green Greenfinch slightly anaemic colour wise? We await to hear from those with greater ornithological knowledge.


Reducing Food Waste Can Be Your Contribution To Climate Action Change

Reducing Food Waste is the Climate Action YOU can do three times a day, as well as saving you money.

Reducing food waste is one of the most effective actions you can undertake to address climate change – it’s simple, it’s free and makes a real difference.
The EPA are challenging everyone to reduce food waste in order to combat climate change.

Do you stop and think when you scrape half-full plates into your waste bin; or throw away food that has been lurking at the back of the fridge?

Not only are we wasting food, but also the resources used to produce, transport and supply it. All of this waste causes unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and scientists estimate that food waste produces up to 10% of all global carbon emissions. In terms of addressing climate change, reducing food waste is an action in which everyone can become involved.

You might be surprised to learn that reducing food waste is one of the most important day-to-day actions we can take, to tackle climate change and it won’t cost you anything. In Ireland over 200,000 tonnes of food is wasted at home, and this waste has a greater impact on the environment given the energy consumed in processing, transport, packaging and preparation. To help you to reduce your food waste the EPA have some great tips and advice, with same available to view HERE.

Ms Mary Frances Rochford (EPA Programme Manager) has stated:

“We talk about climate change and the need for action, but often it is hard to know where to start. Reducing food waste is an immediate and effective way to reduce your personal carbon footprint. If every household in Ireland takes steps to reduce their food waste, this would be a great achievement towards reducing our national footprint. We as a nation are best when we work together to tackle issues and collectively, our individual actions will make a real difference.”

More than one quarter of all food produced is wasted worldwide. Here, in Ireland, we generate more than one million tonnes of food waste every year, with same representing a carbon footprint as high as 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The EPA has three simple steps that individuals and families can take to get started in your food waste battle:

(1) Make a shopping list, and stick to it.
(2) Make the most of the food you buy; don’t forget the leftovers.
(3) If and when plans change, freeze your food and use it later.

We are encouraging everyone to join us in our Stop Food Waste pledge to go a week without wasting food.

Ms Rochford added: “As part of the Climate Action Plan, Ireland has committed to halving food waste by 2030. We will do this by working with food producers; retailers and restaurants; but we also need every person in Ireland to take their own action. So make the pledge, get involved and begin to reduce the food you currently waste.”


Junior Cert Resource Pack On Reducing Food Waste

Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland publishes Junior Cert resource pack on reducing food waste to tackle climate change.

The EPA have produced an educational resource pack to support over 20,000 Junior Certificate students to learn about sustainable living through the Home Economics curriculum.

Reducing food waste is one of the most effective actions we can take to address climate change. The resource pack is to be used by Home Economics teachers to engage students on food waste prevention. The pack supports the new Junior Cycle Curriculum and is available to all post-primary schools across the country. You can download the RESOURCE PACK HERE.

Ms Laura Burke, (EPA Director General), has statedsaid:
With over 200,000 tonnes of food waste generated in Irish homes every year, it is clear that we need to change how we manage our food from shopping – to storage – to cooking. The participation of teachers in the development of this resource ensures that it is of a high standard and relevant to the curriculum.”

The pack is a valuable resource for Home Economics Teachers and provides information and tools to teach students about food waste prevention and its important link to climate change. The pack contains an introduction for teachers; posters & handouts with attractive images and activity pages on planning & grocery shopping, food storage, cooking & preserving.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Mr Richard Bruton T.D has welcomed the resource, stating:

“Managing our resources properly is crucial to securing a better, more sustainable Ireland for future generations. We know that 70% of food waste is avoidable and that this costs Irish households approximately €700 per year and contributes significantly to Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
This resource is a useful tool for teachers and will help students understand the importance of reducing food waste. It includes a number of practical steps, such as planning meals, making shopping lists, using proper storage methods etc, that students can apply in their own lives.

More broadly, we must do more to bring climate action into the classroom. Curriculum must reflect the importance of this issue and promote informed understanding. The Climate Action Plan commits to the development of new short course on climate action for Junior Cycle. It is crucial that our young people are informed and engage with, what is the biggest challenge of their generation.”

Minister for Education and Skills, Mr Joe McHugh TD has also welcomed the resource:

“Educating our students about Sustainable Development is key to ensuring responsible citizenship into the future. This resource promotes the active participation by young people in preventing food waste, which will positively impact on us, our children and future generations.”

Speaking at the launch of the resource at the annual conference of the Association for Home Economics Teachers, Ms Amanda McCloat (Head of the Home Economics Department at St. Angela’s College) said:

“This is a very useful resource for teachers. We are delighted to have been involved in the review process. Home Economics education empowers students with practical food literacy skills which are essential in helping to combat the problem of food waste.”

The resource was developed through the EPA-led Local Authority Prevention Network and is a collaboration between Galway City Council, Galway County Council, Roscommon County Council, Mayo County Council, VOICE Ireland and St. Angela’s College, Sligo.