Young Reporters for the Environment

Water pollution is one of the most pressing issues we have in modern society. It is especially prevalent in the U.K and Ireland. Research shows it is a common occurrence for these countries to be fined for their water quality, or lack thereof.

To give an example, early last year, Northern Ireland Water was fined £80,000 for multiple ‘Pollution Incidents’. There was also a similar such problem in Castlewellan in 2016, with 1900 fish dying due to Eutrophication, and the same company being fined £100,000. This is more common than you may think as around 70% of universal industrial waste is dumped into water bodies, causing major diseases to spread to our drinking water such as cholera and typhoid.

Now, you may think that these issues, while major, are not in your local area, but you’d be wrong. Farming reported last year that a family of Ballyclare farmers were being fined nearly £3,000 [exactly £2,280] in cash due to increased fungal growth in nearby water, caused by leaking silage on their part. All this information would lead you to believe that water pollution is a large-scale offence, and while it is, barely anything has been done to prevent more issues from arising.

Former South Antrim MLA, Thomas Burns, revealed that only 1 person has been arrested for water pollution in the last 5 years, despite over 11,000 cases in that time. ‘Obviously crimes of this nature must be taken seriously’, Burns said in a recent interview, ‘but with this public expense we are entitled to see results.’

These cases have clearly influenced how the environment is treated in N.I, as local SDLP Margaret Ann McKillop tells me, ‘I know the council test it [The Water] so many times a year’, she said, ‘and we have a lot of environmental meetings about it. But, I don’t really know about an issue in this area, an issue locally’. It seems then that the largest problem with water pollution is the lack of awareness around it.

We live in a world with many people scared to watch the news due to the frighteningly real issues it reports. Issues deemed ‘more important’ than water pollution. This causes unawareness and ignorance. The solution? Report more, share more, so you can know more. The first step on this path to awareness is what you’re reading right now. Increase awareness of this growing problem, before it destroys our beautiful planet.

Article by Sean Mullan

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