The Bluefingers logo is based on a Cumulus cloud. The particular variation is the Humilis formation, the smallest Cumulus cloud, being wider than they are tall. A cotton wool tuft, it appears more solid and defined than the other cloud types. They appear almost as if you could reach up and touch them or lie on them and if you could they would be the softest, most comfortable things imaginable. The Bluefingers cloud logo celebrates the Irish climate and the positive qualities of rain.
On March 22nd we made a trip to the UN World Water Day at the Science Gallery at Trinity College to learn about water related issues in Ireland. We are lucky to have an an abundance of water in Ireland. Our countryside is covered in lush green fields thanks to our wet climate. Furthermore our island is surrounded on every side by water. With more than 5,000 lakes, 7,000km of coastline and a network of rivers and streams crisscrossing the country, Ireland’s waters represent a precious resource in terms of economics, recreation and tourism.
For a long time this high rainfall, low population density and little industry meant that our waters have remained some of the cleanest in Europe. However, there has been a steady and serious decline in the quality of this resource over the last thirty years. This is not surprising given the dramatic change in our social and economic circumstances during the same period. Ireland has evolved from a nation of primarily low impact extensive agriculture to one of increased population, industrialisation and intensive agriculture. Unwise development and lack of supporting sewage treatment along with intensive farming have combined to pollute the clean, abundant waters for which Ireland is renowned.
It’s easy to take water for granted in Ireland. At home, we turn on the tap and out it comes; clean the car or kitchen floor and down the drain goes the soiled water. We don’t have to think about where the water comes from or where our waste goes. And isn’t there plenty of rain anyway? But it’s expensive taking raw water from the local lake and bringing it up to drinking water standard. What a waste then to flush this top quality water straight back down the toilet again! Many of the bleaches and detergents used in the home aren’t removed by sewage treatment plants; they just flow through the system and back into the local bay or river.
In theory, we receive enough water from rainfall to meet the needs of the population, but there is an imbalance in the demand for and the distribution of water. The western part of the country is less densely populated than the east and the combination of this factor, together with the east’s relatively smaller supply of rainwater, leads to occasional incidences of water shortages in eastern regions.
What can we do? Use environmentally safe cleaning products to reduce the impact of chemicals on our waters. Don’t pour paint, antifreeze or other chemicals down a drain, dispose of unwanted chemicals, solvents and oils responsibly.
Conserve water: Reduce the generation of wastewater by repairing any leaks or dripping taps in your home. A dripping tap can waste up to 90 litres of water a day. Use a basin when washing dishes it can save up to 10 litres every time. Taking a shower instead of a bath this can save 300 litres of water per person per week. A power shower though can use more water than a bath. Running the washing machine and dishwasher only with a full load. Brushing your teeth with the tap off uses only 1 litre of water, compared to 6 litres per minute when the tap is left running. Washing your car with a bucket of water will take only 10 litres on average. A hosepipe will use 9 litres per minute. Installing a water-saving device in your cistern to save up to 3 litres a flush. Collecting rainwater for watering your plants.
Water is life so lets be grateful for our soft Irish weather.