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Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility www.worldofwater.ie Algal Bloom on a lake shoreline Module 3: Water Quality Unit 2: How We Got Here.

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Presentation on theme: "Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility www.worldofwater.ie Algal Bloom on a lake shoreline Module 3: Water Quality Unit 2: How We Got Here."— Presentation transcript:

1 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Algal Bloom on a lake shoreline Module 3: Water Quality Unit 2: How We Got Here

2 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Objective of this presentation  To show that changes in how we live and how we work, as well as in our outlook, have contributed to the deterioration in water quality over recent decades.

3 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility How we got here! In Ireland, the increase in pollution in recent decades is directly related to a transformation in  the way we live  the production and distribution of food and other consumer goods  the belief that science and engineering can resolve all problems

4 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Lifestyle transformation

5 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Human demands drive transformation  Global population requires increase in production  Mechanisation/technology facilitates this increase  Increased production lowers costs while mass media heightens human expectations  Comsumer expectations drive intensification  Intensification threatens the environment

6 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Lifestyle transformation in rural Ireland since 1950s Characteristics of traditional rural society:  low impact households  lack of disposable income/few possessions  no running water/no plumbing  self-sufficiency/make-and-do  high labour demand  charms & cures Characteristics of modern rural society  high impact households  running water/plumbing  disposable income/available credit/consumerism  increased mobility  dependency/detachment from life skills  lotions, potions and cleaning agents  consumption/disposal of medicinal drugs

7 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Traditional versus modern house plan First Floor Plan

8 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Transformation in the Home – INDOOR PLUMBING

9 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility How modern rural homes impact on the aquatic environment Indoor plumbing requires:  Water on demand: a consistent supply  An on-site wastewater treatment system or a public sewer connection As a result:  Water demand has risen dramatically  Wastewater/sewage disposal poses difficulties

10 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility So, how well do wastewater systems work? Recent surveys indicate problems with  construction of septic tanks  suitability of percolation areas  sludge removal and general maintenance

11 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility What goes down the wastewater treatment system and drains  Household cleaning products, detergents and disinfectants  Left-over pesticides, solvents and paints  Old medicines/antibiotics  Waste oils  Food waste and fat Besides human faeces and urine, our wastewater treatment systems and drains have to cope with:

12 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Increasing numbers of one-off housing

13 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Development Trends (all sectors)

14 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Where we build!

15 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Where we dump!  illegal disposal of domestic waste in vulnerable sites  historic poor siting/management of municipal waste facilities

16 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Waste Disposal – Case study from old council files!  1965 Village residents found responsible for dumping on farm land  1966-Residents of village petition the Council to have their waste collected, or to have a local dumpsite provided  1967 Small parcel of land purchased for village refuse disposal dump  1971 Complaints of nuisance, rats etc by neighbouring dwelling house of the village dump  1971 The investigating health inspector reported that the site was “not suitable” as a dump  1972 A “more suitable” site was identified away from dwellings – a local bog!

17 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Transformation in food production & distribution Characteristics of traditional farming:  low acreage  mixed – tillage/cows/pigs/poultry  the dunghill/rotation/clover  low stocking density  small fields enclosed by hedgerow  light animals  movement of store cattle for finishing  high labour demand/little or no mechanisation  sale of goods at nearest market  low financial return /subsistence  little or no negative impact on water quality

18 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility How and why it changed  1890s, 1910s, 1920s & 1930s - Formation and growth of dairy co-operatives/creameries - Survival of dairy farming industry  1940s, 1950s & 1960s - Introduction of imported grass varieties - Introduction of artificial fertilisers - Increased mechanisation - Rural electrification - Move to heavier and dual-purpose breeds of cattle - Growth of domestic meat-processing industry - ‘Cheap food’ as a policy objective  1970s, 1980s & 1990s - EEC entry/Mansholt Plan - Farming: from ‘way of life’ to viable business - Emergence of specialisation/intensification - Common Agricultural Policy/Subsidies - Intervention - Field enlargement/‘Improvement’ of non-productive land - Move from hay to silage production - Over-wintering of stock

19 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Aspects of transformation in food production

20 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Intensification of dairy & beef production Massive increase in milk yield per cow achieved by:  improved grassland  improved breeds  incentives promoting quantity and quality Increased herd size  specialised milking parlours  paddock grazing “a cow per acre” Parallel development of beef sector:  meat factories and marts  ‘part-time’ farming  financial incentives

21 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Intensification in poultry sector  Strong growth since the 1960s.  Concentrated in particular regions  All year round production  High volumes of manure requiring off-farm disposal

22 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Intensification of pig production  Traditional pig rearing as a by-product of dairying disappears.  Emergence of specialised intensive units in 1970s.  High volumes of slurry/nitrogen produced.  Industry concentrated in particular regions

23 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Intensification in mushroom sector  Began in late 1970s  Industry concentrated in particular regions  All year round production  High volumes of spent mushroom compost requiring off-farm disposal

24 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Implications for environment  Waterways as ‘troughs’  Manure production increases  Input of organic/inorganic fertilisers and pesticides  Increase in farmyard water usage/wastewater production  Disposal of slurry  Silage effluent  Off-farm disposal

25 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Transformation in landscape management Expansion of hard surface areas Wetland drainage and infill

26 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility  River drainage  Hedgerow removal  Extensive field drainage,  Wetland drainage and infill  Expansion of hard surface areas The legacy of Joseph Cyril Bamford (JCB)

27 Our Water, Our Resource, Our Responsibility Discussion In a developing economy it is common for environmental safeguards to take second place to the expansion of the economy (The Heritage Council ).


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