May 28, 2023

WATER CRISIS: Alarming decline in quality of Kilkenny’s rivers, report warns

Kilkenny’s rivers have recorded the highest decline in water quality in the country, an alarming new report has found.

The Water Quality in Ireland report released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals overall water quality in Ireland’s rivers, lakes and estuaries is now at an all-time low.

The report makes for gloomy reading when it comes to Kilkenny’s rivers. The Nore, the Suir and the Barrow recorded the highest declines in water quality of all rivers in Ireland, north and south. In fact, the report found the Three Sisters account for almost half of the poor quality water in our island’s rivers.

It found a significant rise in the levels of recorded phosphorus concentrations. Some 15 sites on the Nore recorded increased concentration, compared to 16 sites on the Suir and 14 sites on the Barrow. The report blames urban wastewater sources for the increased levels of phosphorus.

The report also reveals there are 15 sites on the River Nore with significantly increased nitrogen concentrations, 16 on the Suir and 14 more on the Barrow. The Barrow estuary also had some of the highest levels of dissolved inorganic nitrogen material, which limits the growth of plankton and algae.

In total there were 39 sections of  decline on the Suir, 19 on the Nore and 17 on the Barrow. Together, these account for almost 50% of the overall recorded decline in river water conditions.

The report also found the transitional (tidal) waters and estuaries associated with the Three Sisters to be in poor condition.

The Middle Suir estuary and the Upper Suir estuary, both on the Kilkenny-Waterford border, are in poor ecological order, which also caused Waterford Harbour to fail the environmental quality standard for dissolved oxygen.

The report assessed over 3,200 bodies of water including rivers, lakes, canals, groundwaters, estuaries and coastal waters over a five-year period. It found just over half (52.8%) are in good health.

Ireland now has only 20 pristine river water bodies – or less than 1% of all the river sections examined, according to the report.

It also found the amount of seriously polluted rivers has increased by 50% in just three years.

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