Ireland’s Water Resources

344 words | 2 page(s)

1. Discuss the three main factors that affect the quality of Ireland’s water resources.

It is estimated that approximately 30% of Ireland’s natural water resources are polluted. This is due to several factors. They include:

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Intensive farming. It is considered to be the most significant pressure on water quality. There is a lot of agriculture in the rural areas such that the animal and feed waste which is in the form of slurry and silage runs off from the farms and into the water system. Moreover, every time it rains the agricultural chemicals which are in the form of fertilizers and pesticides are carried to the water bodies. The organic farm wastes and the fertilizers are rich in nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen which facilitate eutrophication.
Domestic waste. It is estimated that approximately 10, 000 homes are built annually in the countrysides. Moreover, most of these homes are built without proper infrastructure. Therefore, the millions of cubic meters of domestic wastewater are released from residential homes into the groundwater systems.
Small-scale treatment plants. Unlike the large-scale treatment plants, most of the small-scale treatment plants do not strictly adhere to the strict standards governing waste management. Therefore, they sometimes end up releasing untreated industrial waste into the water system.

2. What are the effects of these factors on water quality?
Intensive farming, domestic waste, and industrial waste from treatment plants lower the water quality. This is because most of the former causes of water pollution increase the concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus in water. The presence of these nutrients will stimulate the growth of algae, that is, eutrophication, thereby reducing oxygen concentration.

3. What water quality parameters would you test to investigate the presence of pollution from these sources?
The best quality parameter would be examining the types and sizes of invertebrates present in the water. For instance, the presence of numerous filamentous algae suggests that there is a high nutrient concentration in water, therefore, implicating water pollution. Furthermore, the presence of multiple and bigger than average red worms that are physiologically adapted to low oxygen concentrations suggests pollution.

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