Wednesday 30 November 2016

Shit in a bucket

The EPA the Irish Environmental Protection Agency has just released its report on Urban Waste-water treatment round the country for 2015.  It is a sorry tale of non-compliance years after the EU determined and agreed that no swimming person and no pearl mussel should be subject to a warm bath of human effluent. The pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera is "a critically endangered species of mollusc that requires clean, fast flowing, well oxygenated rivers with little nutrient or organic content and a clean river bed". Apart from its own merits and intrinsic rights to an existence it serves as a key indicator species for water quality. Appendix F.3 of the report has a list of 16 places where improvements in waste-treatment were required to give the local mussels a chance.

As the report deals with Urban waste-water, many of the tables, findings and reports look at various elements of [non]-compliance in a list of 171 'large urban areas'. We're not talking São Paulo or Mumbai here but even so, you'd be hard pressed to find 171 'large urban areas' in Ireland: Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, hmmm Drogheda, Athlone, Clonmel ?, Ennis??, is Cobh separate from Cork? . . . I suspect that there are 'large urban areas' of which I've never heard. I think the cut-off is 2,000 p.e = person equivalents which a fudge-factor to include the chipboard factory and Summer visitors.

Talking of Summer visitors, I note that Duncannon, where we spent our holidays every year between 1955 and 1970, has no facilities for treating its sewage. None. That's 300 people with a p.e of about 1,200 who continue to poop-and-flush without a thought about the consequences. They join the plain people of Ballyhack and Arthurstown 5km upriver in contributing to the nutrients in Waterford Harbour and indirectly keeping the oyster farm [prev] across the estuary at Woodstown in business. One of the successes of 2015 was the installation of a reasonable sewage treatment plant at Dunmore East. Duncannon is scheduled to be similarly serviced next year in 2017 if Irish Water is still solvent and there hasn't been a Cryptosporidium crisis elsewhere in the country.

Did someone mention Irish Water? the uber-quango that was set up to manage all of Ireland's water supply and treatment and replace a raggle-taggle mess of micro-authorities who went through the motions and whose duplicative efforts were so inefficient? These shovel-leaners failed to embrace numerous large essential infrastructural projects hanging over since Victorian times: lead-pipes, cracked pipes, absent treatment plants. At least Irish Water is a charge of National regime which can prioritise projects across the country. Arthurstown's [pop 135] issues and discharges are less important than that fact that Roscommon's [pop 1700] drinking water is filled with Cryptosporidium.

If we-the-people employ a group of qualified and trustworthy people to manage the water quality why-oh-why do we-the-people need another set of qualified and trustworthy people at the EPA to oversee them? With so many layers of control and all those comfy salaries, we're still not able to clean up our act. Surely we should give a tax-credit to people like me who are so far from even a small urban area that an going-off-site sewage pipe is out of the question. But even we have flush-toilets which foul the drinking water which comes from our own bore-hole. We should forget about tax-credit and give folding money to families like Mr and Mrs Rissole who just drink their drinking water and shit in a bucket.  And don't get me started on disposable diapers, After Armageddon and our children start to mine the land-fills for all the useful stuff we threw over our shoulders, they are not going to be happy having to shift through filled diapers and unfinished take-aways. I shall die happy if I never have cause to regret food I wasted in the extravagant times.

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