Sunday, April 22, 2012

Today is Earth Day- April 22nd

Since the launch of the first Earth Day in the US on April 22nd 1970, tens of millions of people have taken part in global based activities…raising environmental awareness. Last year in excess of 1 billion people participated in Earth Day activities making it the largest civic observance in the world. Link

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Irish Water will become a subsidiary of Bord Gáis

The Government announced today that the new State water authority Irish Water will become a subsidiary of Bord Gáis (The State owned Irish Gas Company). The formation of a new State Water Authority is to be welcomed as it will for the first time facilitate the provision of water, sewerage and wastewater to be operated holistically. It may also allow Irish Consumers, for the first time, to have the same rights as water consumers in other countries and a proper route for the handling of complaints about water quality, something that is currently lacking in Ireland. On the whole the County Councils and Local Authorities have done an amazing job over the years and to some extent it is sad to see this come to an end. However, the senior management in County Councils didn’t rise to the challenge and have now lost one of their key roles.

In some areas local authorities have failed to react to the real needs of consumers and the poor provision in some areas, often linked with poor planning decisions, has left us with complex supply and sewage treatment problems. However, hidden away in water and wastewater treatment plants around the country we have a wealth of fantastic technical and operational personnel with extensive expertise, which I hope will now be allowed to play a more central role in the operation and management of our water services.

We must be very careful to remember that in all the hype about charges there are real public health issues at the core of this change as well as the environmental issues. Personally I would have preferred to have seen a standalone Water Authority similar to those in the UK prior to privatization based on regional areas where staff, equipment and expertise could be shared. Ireland is small enough to have based these on our existing River Basin Districts and to have had the catchment management functions associated with River Basin Management Plans also come under their auspices. Apart from knowing how to collect revenue and lay pipes, I am at a loss to know what Bord Gáis can bring to this critically important and technically very different industry.

The water industry represents a massive and continuous investment by the tax payer for over a century and it should not be allowed to be asset stripped by the private sector, although it is unlikely that with its small size, dispersed population and the complex arrangement with Group Water Schemes that it will prove to be an attractive investment for some time to come. I wish Water Ireland well, but hope that it creates a sustainable water infrastructure for the future and prosperity of Ireland.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Confusion Reigns Over Septic Tank Registration

County Councils throughout Ireland have been inundated with enquiries relating to how to register their home wastewater treatment systems. The best they have been able to do is to redirect enquiries to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The situation has become quite confused and much of the good will that was out there appears to be evaporating very quickly. The Government needs to clearly set out a proper timescale and mechanism for registration so that those who have septic tank and home treatment systems know what to do.  

The website has some good advice to householders, which will form part of the new standards, that will help them prepare for inspections that are due to begin in 2013:
  • Know where your tank is located;
  • Visually examine your tank every year;
  • Ensure only domestic waste water is treated in your tank;
  • Ensure your tank only discharges from those points for which it was designed to discharge from;
  • Ensure the effluent is not discharged to or does not rise to the surface of the ground;
  • Ensure your tank is not discharging into streams/ditches;
  • Desludge your tank when necessary, using an authorised waste collector;
  • Ensure that your tank is not polluting and operation and maintenance is in compliance with the manufacturer’s manual, as appropriate.
More information at link.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


A research studentship is available working with Dr Catherin Coxon of the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. The studentship (known as a Walsh Fellowship) is tenable at Trinity College Dublin in association with Teagasc, Johnstown Castle (Wexford, Ireland)


This project aims to investigate nitrogen transfer and attenuation within intensively managed agricultural river catchments, so that current mitigation strategies and response times can be evaluated. The project will involve fieldwork at several sites in southern Ireland and laboratory analytical work at Teagasc Johnstown Castle and is carried out within the frame work of the Agricultural Catchments Programme. The objectives include exploration of temporal groundwater fluxes within the landscape, determination of nitrogen transfer via groundwater to streams, investigation of N attenuation in the hyporheic zone and quantification of a nitrogen balance including nitrous oxide emissions.

Applicants should have a good primary degree (II1 or I) or a M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline (Environmental Science, Earth Science, Agricultural Science, Hydrology / Hydrogeology etc.). A full driving licence is also required.  The position is funded by a Teagasc Walsh Fellowship; value €21,000 per annum, to cover postgraduate stipend and tuition fees. (Note: tuition fees for European Union residents are currently €6,085 per annum). The project will start in September 2012. The funding is for a four year structured Ph.D. project, to be completed by end of August 2016.

 The project student will receive initial training based mainly at Trinity College Dublin for the first few months, but for most of the project they will be based at the Teagasc Johnstown Castle Environmental Research Centre, Co. Wexford. They will be registered as a full time research student in the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin (, working under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Coxon. The student will work in association with Teagasc Agricultural Catchments Programme personnel ( and the primary Teagasc supervisor will be Dr. Per-Erik Mellander.

Applicants should submit (a) a curriculum vitae, detailing their qualifications and experience, (b) proof of driving licence, (c) a covering letter explaining why they wish to pursue this project, and (d) contact details for two referees. This should be sent to: Dr. Catherine Coxon, Department of Geology, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland. E-mail: Phone +353-1-8962235
Closing date for applications: May 18th, 2012.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Red List highlights six Irish freshwater species at risk of extinction


Six of Ireland’s 15 native fish species and one of its three amphibians have been included in the revised Red Data List of Irish Amphibians, Reptiles and Freshwater Fish published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service Link. The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is listed as Critically Endangered and five more fish species (pollan, Artic char, twaite shad, Killarney shad and Atlantic salmon) were found to be Vulnerable. The Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita), is classified as Endangered.

For the first time, the status of naturalised non-native fish is discussed. Two of these, dace and chub, have been identified as invasive requiring management. The report sets out management polices and actions for the preservation of Irish Amphibians, Reptiles and Freshwater Fish.