Water is a precious resource:
With Ireland’s famous amount rain, many of us think we shouldn’t have to worry about water or pay for it as if falls freely from the sky. However, as the debate continues about Irish Water, there is no disagreement that water is a precious resource.
We are very fortunate that Ireland does receive the amount of rainfall that it does, but often it falls where it is not needed. The West gets a considerably wetter weather than the East coast, where over a quarter of the population lives and works.
It is estimated that Dublin only has 1% of surplus water at any point in time. If there is any drought or massive leak, the greater Dublin area will face water stoppages. Ireland is the only OECD country that does not currently pay directly for water usage and as a result is the highest user per capita of water.
VOICE supports the imposition of water charges and the concept of paying for what you use to encourage water conservation as well as pay for the treatment and provision of water. However, we believe that the current tax structure should be amended to ensure that taxpayers do not pay for water through their income taxes or other taxes. The only fee each household should pay for the provision of water is through their water charge, paying for what each of us uses.
We also support measures to ensure that our water and wastewater treatment and delivery system always remains in public hands. This is a national asset and should always remain as one.
However, the provision of drinking water is not the only water we need to be concerned about. Ireland must ensure the effective and environmentally sound treatment of sewerage, monitor and enforce licensed discharges into our sewers, surface water and ground water, and protect the quality of our nation’s streams, rivers and lakes. Water is the life blood of our existence, our food production, our wildlife and our country. We must take urgent measures to protect it and use it wisely.
What is VOICE doing?
- In 2004, VOICE established the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) to bring together all water-related organisations to participate in the rollout of the Water Framework Directive. SWAN is now a stand-alone organisation of which VOICE is a member and has a representative on the Board of Directors.
- VOICE is on SWAN’s Fracking Study Steering Committee.
- VOICE is investigating the ability of local authorities to effectively monitor and enforce surface water discharge permits.
- VOICE is a member of Irish Water’s Stakeholder Forum
TweetA group of researchers from Trinity is seeking suitable sites for a new research project on septic tanks. The EPA funded project aims to find solutions for single household on-site wastewater in areas where conventional septic tanks may not be the most appropriate form of treatment. You might have heard in the news that the European Court is going to prosecute Ireland (lump sum fine of €2.7 million plus a daily penalty of €26,173) for failing to comply with the EU Water Framework Directive relating to septic tanks in single households. The outcome of this project will find applications in the new laws and regulations that are requested by the EU to protect water quality and human health. The team is looking to monitor sites in a range of soil permeabilities but if the site is suitable and in an area of low soil permeability there is the chance to be selected for one of the main sites where they would upgrade the old soakaway to a new modern system FOR FREE! All you need to do is let them know if the following points apply to you or any of your friends or family: 1. You are living in a house in the countryside, not connected to the main sewer system. 2. You have an on-site wastewater treatment system consisting of a septic tank and a soakaway. This is more likely to be in place in older houses (15 to 20 years). 3. The house is occupied by at least 3 people. 4. You are willing to cooperate with a few researchers in TCD and allow a few probes to be installed around the area of the soakaway with someone coming on a regular basis to take samples. So please get in touch with Donata Dubber (details below) if you think you might know a suitable site. Your help and your time are much appreciated! Donata Dubber (Postdoctoral researcher, Dipl. Environmental Science) Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Trinity College Dublin Dublin 2 Ireland phone: + 353 (0)1 896 1146 mobile: + 353 (0)85 8232426 email:...read more
Tweet Young Friends of the Earth Ireland is holding a rally today outside the Dail at 13:30. You have a chance to be part of the solution. Join the Rally For Environmental Justice at Dáil Eireann, Dublin City on Wednesday 1:30pm March 23rd. Bring your friends, put on some facepaints, bring drums, music, whatever! And come for drinks in the Pint bar after! It’s our future. Let’s show that we’re willing to fight for it Do you want: * Irish forests and other natural resources sold off to corporations? * Flooding in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Galway? * Poorer countries devastated by climate change? * 40% of species extinct by 2050? … 80% of young people say they want stronger action on the environment. Yet greedy corporations and short-sighted politicians still promote deforestation and climate pollution, harming the world’s poorest and endangering our future. Despite the warnings from scientists, our leaders still ignore the ecological destruction their policies create. The Irish government has already given away the rights to our oil and gas resources to corporations. Now there are proposals to sell off our national forests as well! Instead of renewable energy our leaders still promote dirty fuels that wreck the environment. We need to conserve our forests and ecosystems, switch to clean energy and sustainable farming, and improve public transport. We must build a green, prosperous society where community and equality are valued more than endless profit. Young Friends of the Earth is a worldwide youth network. We believe that young people must act together so our voices are not drowned out by big business and vested interests that profit from the status quo. Young Irish people must stand together with youth the world over to fight for our future. You have a chance to be part of the solution. Join the Rally For Environmental Justice at Dáil Eireann, Dublin City on Wednesday 1:30pm March 23rd. Bring your friends, put on some facepaints, bring drums, music, whatever! And come for drinks in the Pint bar after! DAil Eireann, Kildare Street, Dublin Wednesday March 23rd 1:30pm Rally For Environmental Justice It’s our future. Let’s show that we’re willing to fight for...read more
Tweet Today is UN World Water Day, a global event that is held on the 22nd of March every year as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. This year’s focus is Water for Cities. If you are in Dublin, come along to Trinity’s Science Gallery to join in the global celebrations, listen to some brief talks and have a chat with some activists, including VOICE. You can find out more on this...read more
TweetProgramme for government strong on aspirations to tackle urgent environmental challenges but weak on details of credible policy initiatives. Climate change, sustainable water management, renewable energy and waste management are long-fingered with vague timetables, an exception being the long-overdue open debate on GMOs that will be warmly welcomed by farmers and consumers alike. Most welcome is the pledge to finally sign the Arhus Convention giving rights to access environmental information and justice, rights already enjoyed by other European citizens. The Fine Gael/Labour coalition published its agreed Programme for Government 2011-2016 on ahead of the Labour conference that look place last Sunday in UCD. The Labour delegates approved the programme, thus propelling Labour into government for the first time since 1997. Over the past few days VOICE has analysed the environmental credibility of the Programme for Government and now present our findings. You can read our summary or, if you have the time, keep reading to find out our verdict on the policies of Ireland’s new government. Programme for Government 2011: an environmental analysis General Election 2011 was a historic election for a number of reasons. Friday 25th February saw the highest ever turnout of the Irish electorate and a number of political parties realised record results, for better or for worse. The current economic crisis meant that environmental issues were disappointingly, if predictably, absent from the policy debate. However Ireland still faces a wide range of challenges to our environmental sustainability that must be addressed by the new government. The Fine Gael-Labour coalition, which was confirmed yesterday as the state’s 31st Dail, has released their agreed Programme for Government. VOICE has analysed the environmental merits of the policies set out in this Programme for Government (PfG) under several headings. More generally, the lack of prominence given to environmental matters in the PfG speaks volumes. The environment and sustainable development in the true sense of the phrase are not mentioned in the preamble. Important issues, such as the marine environment, spatial planning and waste are relegated to the very end of the document. However, there are a number of promising policies for which the new government must be given credit. There are promises to publish domestic climate change legislation, reform the regulation of renewable energy installations, move away from landfills and introduce a packaging levy. Ambitions to reform Ireland and adapt to new realities will fall short if we do not also adapt to the realities of resource limits. The economic and social impacts of hitting a resource wall like peak oil are sure to dwarf those of the current economic crisis. The recognition that Ireland’s economy and society exist within and very much depend on our environment and natural resources is lacking from the PfG. This translates into an absence of key policies that would have acknowledged the importance of resource efficiency and the wide-ranging benefits of protecting and improving our natural capital. Indeed, any plans for investing in natural capital seem to involve the liquidation of such investments for short-term gain. Moreover, many of the PfG’s economic strategies around food and tourism rely heavily on Ireland’s image as a clean, green country. It is more important than ever that we make that image a reality. Climate Change and Energy Little progress on existing commitments and a big step...read more
TweetDublin 14th February 2011, Pyrrhic UK court victory exposes fatal flaws in water fluoridation. The UK high court confirmed on 11th Feb, 2011 that water fluoridation can lawfully be imposed on an unwilling English community, in a decision that simply underlines how ill-informed and irrational English health policy is on this issue (1). The call for judicial review of the Strategic Health Authority’s decision to add fluoride to Hampshire drinking water against the wishes of local people was dismissed in an extremely narrow legal ruling that is relevant only to England. In Scotland, Wales and The Isle of Man this practice is prohibited and in 1996, Gerry Adams and Dr Paisley successfully opposed it in N. Ireland. No EU state bar Eire allows it today. “Besides isolating English oral health policymakers from the rest of Europe and international best practice, this decision is a distinctly pyrrhic victory for UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley” said anti-fluoridation campaigner Robert Pocock of VOICE. “The court’s verdict directly contradicts Prime Minister David Cameron’s pre-election statement made in Hampshire that he was against compulsory fluoridation.” Another key problem for Mr Lansley is why did he permit 400,000 pounds to be spent on legal defence by an SHA that he is in the process of abolishing along with the Primary Care Trust that initiated the fluoridation proposal. Perhaps the most challenging question for the health secretary is how an SHA panel of appointed experts in health policy could be so woefully out of touch with international best practice. Incredibly the SHA ignored the conclusion of the systematic review of UK’s National Health Service in 2000 that besides not really preventing cavities, water fluoridation causes tooth mottling (dental fluorosis) in 48% of people. Only three years later almost identical conclusions persuaded the last fluoridated city in Switzerland, Basel, to end fluoridation after 41 years. European policy was given further expression last May, 2010 when the European Scientific Committee on Environmental and Health Risks described the addition of fluoride to water as “a crude and rather ineffective measure of systemic fluoride treatment ..without a detectable threshold for dental and bone damage”. If councils in England persist with this deeply unpopular, coercive and harmful policy, they will further damage the already battered credibility of both the health secretary and current English oral health policy involving as it still does, mass treatment via drinking water. END (1)...read more
TweetDublin, Wed 9th February 2011 Calgary’s ending of fluoridation highlights risks to children in still fluoridated Ireland. The 10 to 3 vote by Calgary City councillors to stop fluoridating the drinking water of 1.1million residents raises yet more doubts about fluoridation in Ireland, the only EU member state to permit widespread fluoridation of drinking water (1). “A Calgary councillor even quoted the fact that European countries have rejected this indiscriminate measure, saying that other sources are available for those individuals who still wish to swallow fluoride” said VOICE spokesman Robert Pocock welcoming the Canadian decision of 8th Feb 2011. Here in Europe it is almost eight years since the last fluoridated Swiss city, Basel, voted in April 2003 by a similar margin (11 votes to 2) to stop fluoridation after 41 years, citing lack of effectiveness and the alarming rise in dental fluorosis in children there (2). An EU committee currently assessing the risks of adding the same fluorosilicates to Irish drinking water, described the practice in a preliminary opinion of June 2009 as “a crude and rather ineffective measure of systemic fluoride treatment … without a detectable threshold for dental and bone damage”. (3) Said the VOICE spokesman “How much longer are our children going to be put at risk from this crude treatment that Irish surveys confirm damages the teeth of one child in three? Why have successive Irish health ministers not confronted the very same evidence that both Basel and now Calgary have acted upon? Its time for some leadership on this important and worrying risk”. ENDS Info on 086 811 3071 (1) http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Calgary+council+votes+fluoridation+municipal+water/4247383/story.html (2) http://www.fluoridealert.org/basel.htm (3)...read more
TweetA review of the case against fluoride: how hazardous waste ended up in our drinking water and the bad science and powerful politics that keep it there by Connett P, Beck J, and Micklem HS summarises the historical, political, ethical, toxicological, and epidemiological scientific data behind drinking water fluoridation. The book concludes that, if proposed today, fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay would stand virtually no chance of being adopted, given the current status of scientific knowledge Click here to read the full...read more
Tweet Despite US government climb down, lower fluoride levels will not protect kids from spotted teeth. Four in ten American kids have spotted or splotchy teeth due to excessive fluoride, says the US health watchdog and fervent promoter of fluoridation, the Center for Disease Control (‘CDC’). On 7th January 2011 it proposed nearly halving the amount fluoride added to US drinking water, mirroring the response of the Irish government in 2007 to similar risks to children in fluoridated Ireland(1). “This is too little and too late for tens of thousands of US and Irish kids” said Robert Pocock, Stop Fluoridation campaigner for Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment. “We rejected the Irish government’s move in 2007 by pointing to the UK’s York Review (2000). This systematic review found that the lowered fluoride concentration (0.7ppm) still results in 42% of people being permanently damaged by dental fluorosis. Clearly, there is so much fluoride already in the diet that the only way to protect children and above all babies, is to stop adding fluoride to water or the food-chain, period.” Later this month, the UK’s judicial review of the local Health Authority’s ill-informed decision to add fluoride to the drinking water of 200,000 unwilling residents of Southampton and environs, is expected to expose not only the blatant flaws in the public consultation process but the gross negligence of health officials in not first assessing current actual fluoride intake levels of residents (both children and adults) in the target area. Stephen Peckham, Chairman of Hampshire Against Fluoridation, said “We have consistently argued that water fluoridation contributes to over-ingestion of fluoride. There are numerous studies since the mid-1990s raising concerns about excess levels but the SHA has refused to take notice of this evidence. Perhaps now they will take a look at this issue and properly examine evidence submitted to them during the consultation.” He went on to say “While the SHA continues to insist that 1ppm of fluoride in drinking water is a so-called optimal level, fluoridation itself is increasingly seen as an outdated practice.” (2) The same UK dietary evidence that 20% of adults are exposed to unsafe levels of fluoride, is also exercising scientists in Europe. At the public hearing on fluoridation chemicals in Brussels in September 2010, members of the Scientific Committee on Environmental and Health Risks (SCHER) declared their serious concern at the health implications of much higher fluoride levels today. If the evidence of people living in the largely un-fluoridated UK is applied to Europe, then tens of millions of EU citizens are clearly also at risk from excessive fluoride. (3) Unsafe intake in adults is linked to a wide variety of adverse health effects including impaired thyroid, kidney and pineal function, bone cancer as well as other bone and joint disorders due to lifetime accumulation. In children, besides visible damage to teeth, adverse effects include IQ and brain damage. In Europe only Ireland and minor parts of the UK permit fluoridation chemicals to be added to drinking water, the practice having been rejected as crude, unsafe and ineffective by the rest of the EU. ENDS INFO on +353 86 811 3071 References: (1) http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/fact_sheets/cwf_qa.htm (2) http://hampshireagainstfluoridation.blogspot.com/ (3) http://www.fluorideresearch.org/434/files/FJ2010_v43_n4_p223-231.pdf (4)...read more
Tweet Press Release Dublin, 21st September 2010 EU Commission hearing exposes fatal flaws in water fluoridation. Tuesday 21st September 2010 “VOICE, along with other environmental and health campaigners and international scientists, have presented detailed evidence of the adverse effects of adding fluoride to drinking water at an EU public hearing held in Brussels” said VOICE spokesperson Robert Pocock, who made a presentation to the public hearing in Brussels. “Its effects on bone and tooth enamel, the brain, kidney, thyroid function and the endocrine system regulating the body’s hormones were confirmed by reference to extensive scientific research” continued the spokesperson. Ireland and the UK are the only EU member states to deliberately fluoridate their citizens. The European Commission’s scientific committee on health and environmental risks (SCHER) is critically reviewing fluoride and fluoridation chemicals, following repeated questions from VOICE and other organisations, and Irish and UK MEPs. The committee’s preliminary opinion has already stated that water fluoridation is a crude and rather ineffective form of systemic fluoride treatment for which there is no detectable threshold for dental and bone damage. At the hearing all committee members agreed with Prof Vyvyan Howard, a leading international researcher in molecular bioscience based in the University of Ulster, that if regulatory approval for fluoridation chemicals was being sought today based on the data presented to the hearing by SCHER, the chances of obtaining it were extremely remote. A key concern of VOICE and others attending the hearing was overexposure to fluoride. In Ireland there is an epidemic of dental fluorosis in children, as confirmed by the North South Survey of Children’s Oral Health in Ireland 2002, two of whose authors were present at the hearing. This survey revealed a seven-fold increase in dental fluorosis in Irish 15-year-olds from 1984 to 2002. Dental fluorosis, which manifests as mottling or pitting of tooth enamel, is a sign of bodily overload of fluoride. The committee was also alerted to the fundamental contradictions between the advice from another EU scientific committee, monitoring the safety of cosmetics including toothpaste, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). While fluoride toothpastes must carry labels warning children under six-years not to swallow it as it contains sodium monofluorophosphate, EFSA recently approved the same substance as a permitted food additive under the food supplements directive. This was cited as indicative of the serious flaws in most of the advice on fluorides provided to the committee by EFSA. The public hearing on fluoridation on Sept 17th 2010 attracted delegates from only Ireland and the UK as the sole EU member states permitting water fluoridation. The only other EU nationals in attendance were a leading supplier of fluoride toothpastes in Europe, the Spanish shipper of fluorosilicates to Ireland, and an Austrian physicist and son of Europe’s most successful fluoridation opponent, the late Rudolf Ziegelbecker who demonstrated the statistical flaws behind fluoridation’s supposed benefits. With five of the seven- member scientific panel themselves coming from member states that do not accept these supposed benefits, the isolation of the Irish and UK government representatives was self evident. The Irish government was represented by four members of the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides & Health, and the UK by the British Fluoridation Society (BFS) and a UK-based dentist from the European Association of Dental Public Health. In the...read more
This leaflet describes the concept of a personal ‘water footprint’ and all the ways we use water indirectly without knowing it.read more