Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice says the EU, the EPA and the Government have to “cop on and use some common sense” in order to solve water quality issues throughout the country.
Commenting on the issue Michael Fitzmaurice said “In light of the statement from Minister Coveney in the past week in relation to Ireland needing to clean up it’s act with regard to THMs (Trihalomethanes) in the water supply, and a warning from the EU, which Ireland will have to reply to, it is likely that the EU will take Ireland to court for non compliance, and the Minister does not seem to understand the situation on the ground on this most serious issue”.
Long-term exposure to Trihalomethanes has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers as well as heart, lung, liver and kidney problems.
Deputy Fitzmaurice went on to say “In reality, at least 50% of all extraction points for water that Irish Water control and also in outflow where upgrades of sewage plants is required, there is a problem with the Habitats Directive. Even if Irish Water looked for planning permission to do the works needed, with the regulations that exist at the moment it would be virtually impossible to get that planning permission” he said.
“The Minister, instead of making statements on what Ireland is going to do, needs to go to the EU and have the EPA and Irish Water on board as well and ensure that the obstacles that have been put in place are removed immediately. Human health is sacrosanct and must be the top priority at all times. 50% of the areas where water is extracted or where there is an outflow for sewage are designated SAC’s or are subject to some other designation. Unless Europe cop on and the Irish Government stand up to them and state that they have to look after the health of their people first, then right around the country there are going to be major problems ahead with regard to the provision of quality drinking water” he commented.
Michael Fitzmaurice added “I spoke to Minister Coveney about this issue last week and he told me that he is going to look at it but relying on others to solve this problem or look at it is no good. This must be tackled now, not in three months, or six months, or a year. It must be sorted out immediately because high levels of THM’s is a problem all around the country. There is plenty of evidence that exposure to THM’s over an extended period of time is detrimental to one’s health”.
“I have spoken with our MEP’s, Irish Water, and to the Minister and I am expecting that our MEP’s will have a meeting arranged with EU officials on this matter within the next week which I intend to attend. This issue is urgent and should be given top priority. We are not just talking about the few thousand people affected in the Lough Talt area which I highlighted a few weeks ago but hundreds of thousands of people around the country” he said.
“We are aware of a situation at the moment where raw sewage going into a lake that is a so-called SAC. Irish Water are trying to upgrade it and the issue is in the planning process at the moment. But from what we understand the EPA are saying that a pipeline of 7 kilometres is required. Irish Water can treat this but with the lunacy that is involved here they are saying that it is not good enough. People must realise that piping this sewage 7 Kilometres would simply not be viable in terms of cost alone. It will cost taxpayers vast sums of money to comply with the needless red tape and stupid rules and regulations that exist here at the moment. The EU, the EPA and the Government have to cop on and use some common sense for once and I will be pursuing this matter relentlessly until it is resolved” he concluded.