22nd March 2021 | Press Releases

Green Party calls for recognition of clean water as a human right

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Access to clean water is a basic human right of every inhabitant of this country, the Green Party has said. March 22nd is World Water Day and this year’s focus on the value of water has never been more important.

Senator Róisín Garvey said: “Water is a basic human right, yet here we are in 2021 with a huge water crisis in Ireland. It’s time we valued our water and gave it the respect and investment it needs so people can feel safe drinking and using it again. We as a Government party have made commitments in the Programme for Government and now we have to turn those into action. We must protect it from source to sea and everything along the way, rivers, lakes, and groundwater.

The Programme for Government commits to making the provision of safe drinking water and the proper treatment of wastewater a priority, and Senator Róisín Garvey will bring a motion to Seanad Éireann next week calling for:

The State to provide for the management, treatment and distribution of safe water through systems in public or community ownership, ensuring the protection and restoration of the ecological status of water bodies.

Recognition that clean water is a basic human right of every inhabitant of this country and that Access to Clean Water and Sanitation is also a United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal that we have signed up to.

Senators Pauline O’Reilly and Vincent P Martin joined Senator Garvey at the launch.

Senator O’Reilly stated: “Water is so much part of our environment on this island – not just our seas but also our wetlands. €1.3bn was allocated to Irish Water in budget 2021. That was key for us in listening not just to those protecting our wildlife, but also to those looking to construct more homes and more businesses, particularly in rural Ireland. That investment is needed now more than ever, and we need to see that guaranteed investment going forward.”

According to the Water Quality in Ireland report published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2020, only 53% of our surface water bodies have satisfactory water quality. There are now just 20 pristine river sites, down from over 500 sites in the late 1980s. In addition, the CSO recently reported that treatment at 19 of Ireland’s large towns and cities, including Dublin and Cork, failed to meet EU standards set to prevent pollution.

Senator Martin stated: “We need to get serious about this. It requires prioritisation and investment. It’s not a silver bullet, but the motion in the Seanad is a first step. We want to ensure that every person in this country will see a change for the better – better health and better quality of life.”

Senator Garvey concluded: “Coming from rural Ireland, I see huge issues with lack of infrastructure. We have many villages in towns that are one water treatment plant away from surviving and thriving. There is no housing without water infrastructure. There is no rural development or regional balance without water infrastructure.”