15 Aug 2022

River Suir 'heavily littered' in Waterford City, new survey reveals

Almost 40% of rivers, beaches and harbours are 'littered', with Tramore considered 'moderately littered'

River Suir 'heavily littered' in Waterford City, new survey reveals

Survey reveals River Suir in Waterford city is ‘heavily littered’, while Tramore is considered 'moderately littered'.

The first nationwide survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter of Ireland’s (IBAL) rivers, beaches and harbours has revealed that the River Suir in Waterford city is ‘heavily littered’, while Tramore is considered 'moderately littered'. 

The study of beaches, harbours, rivers and their immediate environs, carried out by An Taisce, showed only four of 50 areas surveyed were deemed ‘Clean to European Norms’. Almost 40% were littered or heavily littered, with some areas in Cork Harbour and Doolin Pier in Clare classified as litter blackspots.

The An Taisce report stated: “Much of the visible area of the river was clear of litter, but not all. There were also some items of litter along the walkway - bottle caps/lids, cans, dog fouling (and bagged dog fouling), cigarette butts, some cans and paper items were present.”

The results contrast with those of IBAL’s recent surveys of towns across the country which show 75% of areas to be clean, compared to just 8% in this survey. “Sadly, accumulations of litter in and around our waterways are a common sight in Ireland and this is borne out by these disappointing results,” commented Conor Horgan of IBAL.

“If we can call our towns clean, we cannot say the same for the areas around our beaches and rivers. It took almost ten years of naming and shaming for local authorities to get to grips with litter in our towns. IBAL has set about pushing for a similar turnabout in respect of coastal areas and waterways.”

IBAL has been publishing litter surveys since 2002 as part of its Anti-Litter League programme, which has helped bring about a spectacular shift in litter levels. 16 years ago, less than 10% of the towns surveyed were deemed ‘clean’. The most recent report shows three-quarters of towns attaining clean status.

“The objective of this new campaign is to rid our coasts and waterways of litter, as they are central to the country’s appeal to visitors and an integral part of the clean image we project. Aside from this commercial motivation, our research brings into focus the broader issue of marine litter and the need to stem the vast amounts of plastic and other litter which is entering and killing our oceans,” Mr Horgan continued.

The most common forms of litter found by the assessors were cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, plastic bottles and cans. “We are a small island and often subject to wet and windy weather. When someone casually drops a plastic bottle or cigarette butt on the street, the likelihood of it being blown into a local river or swept into a drain to then enter the sea is very high.

“This litter isn’t just unsightly, it is contributing to lasting, potentially irreparable damage to our planet. This is the new face of litter,” he added.

Worldwide, billions of kilos of disgarded plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans, making up about 40 percent of the world's ocean surfaces. For every foot of coastline in the world, the equivalent of five grocery bags filled with plastic ends up in our oceans each year. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

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