With water now becoming a hot topic for taxing debate, it might be time for an even more honest one. According to eco plumber Donogh o'Loghlin, we need to preserve precious water, as we can never improve the quality of the ground water that we all drink.
Chemicals abound in our homes, cars, workplaces, in agriculture and industry. In essence, they are almost a part of us at times. The water we bathe in and drink is a valuable asset that is taken for granted. We also take for granted where it comes from, assuming that it will never run out. Run out, No perhaps, but it will become seriously polluted beyond the point of consumption. This is becoming a possibility, as has already happened in parts of Galway, Roscommon and Leitrim amongst other areas where residents now have to boil their water.
It is widely accepted that the pollution of surface water is the cause of many problems, such as the eutrophication of lakes and rivers (UCC study Kilkern lake Castlefreake). Sea lettuce generally occurs when there are excessive inputs of nutrients, particularly nitrogen derived from domestic, industrial and agricultural sources.
In essence, what we put in to our water is what we will eventually get out. Household bleach, powdered or liquid, kills bacteria long after it has flushed down the toilet. It kills the benevolent bacteria in our septic tanks. It forces treatment plants to work even harder causing noxious gases etc. Forty years ago, John Seymour (environmentalist) was one of many to predict a Nitrate Time Bomb. The water test laboratory I use, which also serves the city, is telling me that the nitrates are through the roof this past 24 months.
As a domestic plumber, I view any house holistically. It wasn’t until I came to West Cork that I first encountered so many wells and the negative impact they have on people’s plumbing and heating due to mineral composition, which causes system failure. But more obviously on the health of the general public. ‘Don’t pee in the pond’, be careful where you site oil tanks and oil boilers (every condensing boiler’s waste water must be treated accordingly). You may not by ‘law’ discharge to drains, ground water or even over the gunawale of a boat; motor oil, grease, anti-freeze, cooking fat, weedkillers, turps, white spirits, medicines — none of these should be going down your drain.
So my wish for 2014 would be for every multiple and shop on the island to stop stocking non ecofriendly products. There are so many old school remedies available online now, that in fact these are even unnecessary. Remedies such as vinegar and baking soda will clean your stains from your toilet or, if really stubborn, empty the trap of water and fill completely with coca cola and soak overnight (ironically, this is cheaper than water). In fact, the stains on your toilet are mainly lime and other mineral deposits. Amazingly, no monsters are going to jump up and bite you on the posterior if you go ‘old school’ (no, in fact we are perfectly good at doing this ourselves). We have everything we need to turn this situation around…all we need is the will. Clean water will safeguard our immediate environment, our health, our community, our sustainability. So here’s to good will, the year of the optimist 2014. Stay safe and healthy and help keep our water clean.