Microplastics are small plastic fragments that come from larger pieces like clothing and personal care products

New research by scientists at NUI Galway has laid bare the damage microplastics are having on fish living at extreme depths in the northwest Atlantic.

Researchers found 73% of deep water fish had ingested plastic particles, one of the highest frequencies in fish anywhere in the world ever reported.

The research was conducted during a transatlantic crossing by the Marine Institute's Celtic Explorer research vessel.

During the journey, scientists recovered dead deep-sea fish by trawling depths of up to 600 metres in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.

Among the species they caught were three types of Lanternfish, Rakery Beaconlamp, Stout Sawpalate and Scaly Dragonfish.

Once back on shore, the team examined the stomach contents of the 233 fish they had gathered, which ranged in size from 3.5 to 59 centimetres.

They found 73% had microplastics inside them - small plastic fragments that come from larger pieces like clothing and personal care products that are dumped in the ocean.

The researchers say this is one of the highest frequencies of microplastics ever recorded in fish anywhere in the world.

 One small Lanternfish, just 4.5 centimetres long, had 13 microplastics in its stomach. 

Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

Resarchers say this is one of the highest frequencies of microplastics ever recorded in fish (Pic: Dawid Piotr Szlaga)

Resarchers say this is one of the highest frequencies of microplastics ever recorded in fish (Pic: Dawid Piotr Szlaga)

The team examined the stomach contents of the 233 fish they had gathered (Pic: Dawid Piotr Szlaga)

The team examined the stomach contents of the 233 fish they had gathered (Pic: Dawid Piotr Szlaga)

Alina Wieczorek, lead author of the study and PhD candidate from the School of Natural Sciences and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: "Deep water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics."

The scientists acknowledge that the sample of fish may have come from a particularly polluted area of the ocean where plastics accumulate due to certain tides and currents.

Nevertheless, the researchers say their findings are worrying, not only because it is further evidence fish are ingesting microplastics, but also because it shows deep water fish far from our shores are also at risk. 

Dr Tom Doyle, a co-author of the study from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: "While there is clearly a concern that the ingestion of microplastics with associated toxins may have harmful effects on these fishes, or even the fishes that feed on them, our study highlights that these seemingly remote fishes located thousands of kilometres from land and 600 metres down in our ocean are not isolated from our pollution.

"Indeed, it's worrying to think that our daily activities, such as washing our synthetic clothes in our washing machines, results in billions of microplastics entering our oceans through our waste water stream that may eventually end up in these deep-sea fishes."

Large varieties of marine species are capable of ingesting such plastics and the substances can cause significant internal damage to them. 

Many varieties of plastics are extremely toxic because of additives added to them during manufacture.

The danger, therefore, is not only confined to the creature that eats the plastic but can also transfer up the food chain as they are preyed upon.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

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Irish Water urges people not to use supply for drinking, food preparation or washing

Kitchen Tap Water Dripping

Irish Water issued the warning on Wednesday afternoon due to increased chlorine levels in the water supply


Households in Co Meath have been told to not to use tap water for drinking, food preparation or washing.

Irish Water issued the warning on Wednesday afternoon due to increased chlorine levels in the water supply.

The areas affected by the notice include Kilcloon, Moygaddy, Killeany, Kilgraigue, Harristown, Brownstown, Ballynare, Butlerstown, Staffordstown, Brownrath, Blackhall Little, Waynestown, Harlockstown and Ballymacoll.

Irish Water said the “mechanical issue” that caused the chlorine levels to increase had been resolved but the warning would remain in place “until further notice”.

“We are carrying out a programme of flushing on the network to return the chlorine levels to the correct drinking water standards,” the company said in a statement.

Information taken from:

Kettle Water Hob

Irish Water has said that the boil water notice issued in relation to the Lough Talt Public Water Supply yesterday also relates to consumers connected to the Ogham Group Water Scheme in Co Mayo.

The notice was issued yesterday due to the detection of cryptosporidium in the treated water coming from the plant.

Approximately 13,000 people are affected by the notice in Tubbercurry and Ballymote in Co Sligo and the surrounding rural hinterland.

The Ogham Group Water Scheme in Mayo is also supplied by Lough Talt and Irish Water says that Cloontia, Doocastle and Abbeyfield are affected by the notice.

Irish Water says it is working closely with the Health Service Executive in relation to the situation with regular testing taking place with a view to getting the boil water notice lifted if there are sufficient clear samples over a number of weeks.

Information taken from:

Kitchen Tap Glass of Water

A boil water notice that was in place for parts of Wicklow and south Dublin has been lifted.  

Irish Water said the notice which was put in place on Monday 29 January was lifted for all units within the Woodstock Business Park in Kilcoole. 

On Thursday, the boil water notice for all other areas supplied by the Vartry Water Treatment Plant was lifted.

Irish Water implemented the notice, which affected around 65,000 people, as a precautionary measure following a mechanical failure of the chlorine equipment.

It said it had carried out a chlorine testing and water sampling programme and had liaised with the HSE to ensure drinking water standards were met within the impacted area.

Irish Water said it worked with the three local authorities of Wicklow, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City who operate the plant to re-open it.

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More than half of all small private wells in Co Cork were not tested for potentially harmful bacteria in 2016.

ecoli in drinking water

An audit by the Environmental Protection Agency of the 2016 water monitoring programme by Cork County Council found 302 out of 523 small private supplies were not monitored for E.coli.

While small private supplies are often wells on farms, some are operated by hotels and B&Bs.

Twelve audits were carried out on individual supplies in Cork during 2016 as a result of E.coli being detected in the water.

Council records indicated 66 small private schemes had recorded non-compliant samples for breaches of the safety limits for various components.

The council also monitors 293 group water schemes in Co Cork including 157 private group schemes not operated by Irish Water.

The audit revealed a total of 14 boil water notices were issued to small private supplies during 2016 and advice to boil water was issued to three group water schemes. The majority of notices were lifted last year.

The results of the EPA audit said arrangements by Cork County Council to assess the quality of private water supplies for 2016 were “not totally satisfactory.”

The environmental watchdog said there were several weaknesses in the council’s monitoring programme including the lack of a documented procedure for selecting and taking samples and the lack of pre-determined locations and dates to ensure samples were evenly spread and representative of water supplies in an area.

The audit also revealed that Cork County Council does not monitor nursing homes or food premises as it regards them as within the remit of the HSE.

At the same time, it found that some relevant information held by the HSE is not shared with the council because of data protection issues. The council said it was confident that it is informed by the HSE of failures at public nursing homes but both it and the EPA are not notified of compliant properties.

The HSE has recently informed the EPA that while it monitored private supplies in the past, it may not do so in future unless to honour contractual agreements already in place.

The council has indicated it is considering taking samples from nursing homes in future. It also said it would prioritise sampling from national schools in future.

“Cork County Council needs to satisfy itself that private supplies are being monitored at the required frequency and for the correct parameters to ensure wholesome clean water is being delivered to its consumers,” the EPA said.

It recommended that all private supplies regardless of size should be monitored at least once per year for E.coli. It added that supplies which provide drinking water to 50 or more people should be monitored at least twice a year.

Information taken from:

  • Over 60% increase in maximum subsidy per group water scheme household
  • Review of wider investment needs of rural water services to commence in early 2018

The average cow drinks 25 gallons of water daily

December 15, 2017

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, has announced a range of measures aimed at improving rural water services. 

The changes will come into effect from January 1 2018.  The Minister said that the package of measures will bring greater equity and fairness for rural water users and will ensure that domestic members of group water schemes get comparable benefits to those being served by the public supply through Irish Water. 

In addition to the increased subsidies, the Minister announced a review of wider investment needs of rural water services, which is to commence in early 2018.

He announced the measures following endorsement recently of the revised subsidy levels for group water schemes by the National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) at a special delegates’ conference. 

Subsidies are intended to cover the operating cost of providing domestic water services to households supplied by group water schemes.

The changes are:

  • For the annual subsidy towards the operation and maintenance costs of group water schemes providing a supply of water for domestic purposes (knows as ‘Subsidy A’):
    • The maximum subsidy per house in private group water schemes is to increase from €140 per household to €231.  Private group water schemes are schemes that supply water from their own water treatment plant.  An increased maximum subsidy of €281 per household is available for small schemes of less than 100 houses that are willing, in the interests of providing in the long run a more sustainable water supply to their members, to progress towards rationalisation or amalgamation with other schemes.
    • The maximum subsidy per house for public group water schemes is to increase from €70 per household to €115.  These are schemes that supply water to their members that is provided by Irish Water.
    • The portion of costs than can be recouped by group water schemes is to increase.  Currently, typically up 60% of costs can be covered by the subsidy payments.  This is to increase to 85%.  There will also be changes and simplifications to how these costs are assessed.
  • For the additional subsidy that is paid towards the costs of group water schemes that have long-term Operation and Maintenance Contracts (e.g. as part of a Design Build Operate project) for the delivery of water (known as ‘Subsidy B)’:
  • There is an increase in the level of recoupable volumetric costs incurred by group water schemes operating under these contracts from 60% to 85%.  This will allow for a greater portion of costs to be included within the subsidy payment.

The Minister further indicated that he is currently finalising proposals to increase the level of grant support for users of private wells, with details to be announced in the coming weeks

Announcing the measures, Minister Murphy said secure, high quality water services in rural Ireland are vital to sustaining communities, businesses and water-intensive industries like the agri-food sector.

“Revisions to group water scheme subsidies will help improve water quality and scheme management. It will also help secure the future of smaller group water schemes. But infrastructural improvements are also essential, which is why the Government funds such improvements through the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme.

"Next year, the Government has allocated €20 million for the programme, an increase of 12.4% on the 2017 allocation. Rural water supplies’ quality, as evidenced by the recent EPA report, continues to be inferior to that of public water supplies, which is why we are committed to sustained capital funding for group water schemes.”

“Serious challenges remain in relation to rural water services, including in the areas of water quality (in small private supplies, private wells and group water schemes), future management of group water schemes and sustainable management of septic tanks.

"In this context, my Department will initiate a short, focused review of the wider investment needs relating to rural water services, including the overall approach to funding group water schemes, early next year.

"Any new measures will support the programmes of measures in the finalised River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021, which I plan on publishing early next year,” he said.

Information taken from:

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