Irish Water Upgrade of the Vartry Treatment Works threatens the River Vartry

May 12th, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, History, Irish Water, River Basin Management | No Comments »

Thank you everyone for you concentrated effort to fight for River Vartry. We have seen 11 independent Observations against the Planning application so far. Tomorrow we will see if there are a few more that made it under the wire as the date for submissions was Thursday the 12th of May.
The summary of most of the Objections was the call for an Independent Environmental Impact Assessment rather than Irish Water saying “Believe us, we don’t need an EIA!”. The fact that they admit in their application that they will damage the River both in Construction and Operation was not overlooked and certainly affected the overall trust in Irish Water.

Many of the Objections pointed out the irresponsible and flawed science use to say that the pollutants would be within EU specifications. Irish Water claimed that the new discharge was 35% of the flow of the river, when there is no records that have ever been taken, showing what is the flow in the river. This was a blanket figure, not taking into account the difference in flow during drought and flood. Without a comprehensive study of flows in the river and figures of discharge vs. flow during the whole year, taking into account of global warming, you cannot take these figures seriously.

What was interesting was the tone of the objections from the Riparian Owners. They used words like “insist” and “demand” and are exercising their Riparian Rights and Responsibilities. This is an important change as Irish Water cannot abstract more water or pollute without the full consent of all of the Riparian Owners according to Common Law. This attitude is supported by the Office of Public Works in their publishing a page on Riparian Rights and Responsibilities. They state “You have the responsibility to pass on flow without obstructing of polluting the water otherwise affecting the rights of the owners downstream.” The Treatment Works has this responsibility to us. We are willing to go as far as it takes, even to the High Court, to defend our Rights before we will allow the River to be destroyed.

This kind of protection of a River by the Riparian Owners is unique in Ireland, in history, and possibly in other countries. We are committed to seeing that our treasured resource of the Vartry River is kept safe for future generations, and would like to feel that Wicklow County Council and Irish Water would step back and think about the importance of this to all of us, before putting 2.5 times the pollution into the river and completely cutting it off from its source.

River Vartry Survey

May 6th, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, History, River Basin Management | No Comments »

The Vartry Angling and Conservation Club has been instrumental in getting experts from the UK, The Wild Trout Trust, to travel over and survey our River. We can not thanks them enough for the most comprehensive study of the Vartry River since St. Patrick stepped out of his boat and onto the banks of the River Dee, as it was once known. After my extensive all the historical documents on the River, this will be the one looked at in 200 years from now.

Thank you Luke for your perseverance to making this happen.

The full document is attached here and can be read and studied. River Vartry Survey The purpose originally was to look at the possible reconstruction of the Weir at Ashford, but we can now follow this in our future efforts to improve and keep safe the river. Their comments on the Weir should be followed and efforts should be made to make the Weir look nice, but without reconstructing it and following the guidelines indicated here.

Irish Water Roundwood Treatment Works Upgrade Threatens River Vartry

May 1st, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Fish, Irish Water, River Basin Management, Threats | No Comments »

We held a meeting to review our Objection to the Treatment Works Upgrade which was well attended by members and the public. We added 6 more Riparian Owners who we had not identified previously. We now have probably 90% of the owners together, which strengthens our sphere of influence.

I retold the original vision of why we started the society and perhaps it is worth retelling.

I woke one morning with a dream/vision of the River Vartry winding its way through all of our lives who live along the River. It flows from one to another and links us all. I saw all of the Owners and neighbours holding hands on both sides of the River, making a continuous chain from the Reservoir to the Sea. There were fathers, sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren all committed to keeping the River safe from threats such as this.

This sponsorship of a River ends up being unique and a real force to keeping the River Vartry safe and improving its quality of water and fish better and better. This will ensure that the River will pass on from generation to generation providing Wicklow with the channel and Ecosystem of wildlife and protected species.

It was clear from the meeting that we are going to fight this Upgrade until we are sure that it does not harm the River Vartry in any way. All are committed. If you want to see our Objection which covers all of the major threats and Irish Water’s callous dismissal of damage, please contact me or you can look on Wicklow County Council Planning Reference 16363. It will be lodged on the 3rd of May. If you wish to object, you will need to get it in by the 12th of May when the date for submissions closes.

Environmental Issues from Irish Water Planning Permission for Roundwood Treatment Works

April 21st, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, River Basin Management, Threats | No Comments »

It has been a long time since there has been a need for the River Vartry Protection Society to meet together as there has not been such a situation as we have now that threatens our River Varty like this. At this point there is a planning application that needs answering by the 12th of May and has me very frightened as to what might happen to the river.

We are having a meeting in the Ashford Community Hall at 8:00 pm on Tuesday 26th which will be attended by the River Vartry Protection Society (hopefully most of the Riparian Owners will be present), the Vartry Angling and Conservation Club, and the Friends of the Murrough primarily. There will be members of the public as well, I presume. If you know someone that should be there, perhaps living along the river, please pass this information along to them.

We have many issues with this planning application 16363 in the name of Irish Water for Strategic Infrastructure costing 250 Million, as we believe it must have an Environment Impact Study and should really be in the hands of An Bord Pleanala since it crosses both Wicklow Council and Dublin Corp.

The main issues are:

Irish Water believe they do not need a EIA because the Murrough is 9 KM away, only linked by the River Vartry. (They ignore the polution they WILL cause to the River Vartry (they admit to this in their application).
1- They are stopping all leaks from the current works which supplies 4 Million Litres a day to the river.
2- They want to increase the damaging discharge from 1700 m3 per day to 4000 m3 per day and 4 locations into the River rather than currently 2.
3- The discharge will be worse than it was before with more contaminants due to more efficient cleaning than before.
4- Their consultant quotes “The discharge comprises 35% of the daily flow (as it is today) of the River Vartry at the discharge location. Therefore a potential localised impact on the water quality within the River Vartry at this site is anticipated. This impact could be measurable up to the point of the next significant inflow to the River Vartry approximately 300m downstream from the discharge. However…” They think the river has anough assimilative capacity to absorb their pollution. The inflow they talk of has negligible water added to the river in the dry season.
5- I don’t believe that this is even accurate as they intend to have 0% loss of water to the river, so the 35% will be more like 100% when they stop the leaks.
6- They state that it is an EU protected river, but completely ignore it in all their assessments as to impact they will cause.
7- They quote 2008 figures for fish and don’t admit to the fact that it is one of the better rivers in Ireland and very very important.

The Murrough may be affected by silt and potential spills from the construction (they say) and could be subject to oil or other spillages but they will TRY to mitigate this. There is no authority inspecting or supervising that they will actually mitigate this happening and their procedures 100% bullet proof.

I will have the draft objection circulated before the meeting.

It would be nice if you could make it. Tea and Cake and good company as well.

New Year’s Message – Passing of Madelaine Jay – Ashford Weir

January 15th, 2016 -- Posted in Active, History, River Basin Management | No Comments »

The funeral of Madelaine Jay is at Nun’s Cross Church today at 12:30 and I think that her passing at 95 years old should be marked by the importance she has played to the River Vartry and for her contribution to Ashford. In reflection, I was struck but the fact that along the river were several important women who’s lives were wound around the river. Madelaine Jay and Maureen Gelletlie both spent their lives caring for and looking after our heritage along the river; Mount Usher Gardens and Hunter’s Hotel. Madeline Jay helped to preserve Mount Usher Gardens from 1980 when she took over from the Walpole family. In 2007 she decided to invite the Donald Pratt and his son to take over the café. Bringing the Avoca brand and the Pratt’s stewardship to the Gardens has re-energised them and helped with it’s long term preservation. Further down at Hunter’s Maureen’s sons, Richard and Tom, continue to care for and preserve Hunter’s. The Pratts, the Gelletlie, and the Jays are members of the River Vartry Protection Society and help to make sure the river remains a clean, vibrant part of our lives. We give a parting thanks to Madelaine as she goes on a new journey.

We also take the moment of New Years to comment on the Weir at Ashford which has traveled somewhere down past Mount Usher! It has been completely destroyed by the flooding and a gaping hole left where the concrete once was. This is a problem. Does Wicklow County Council have the resources to fix it? Can we make sure that the Wicklow County Council will fully consult with the Fisheries Board before doing anything? The Weir has a purpose to keep the levels of the river above that minimum height while not presenting an obstacle to the fish traveling above the weir for spawning. The previous weir was poorly constructed from the standpoint of the fish, but no weir will harm them too. It is a double edged sword but the correct people to deal with its new design are the Fisheries as it is difficult to find the correct solution. We have been in contact with the Fisheries and they are monitoring the situation but it is up to the Wicklow County Council to find the money and to consult the Fisheries for their expertise in this matter. Hopefully a solution will be found.

Happy New Year to you all.

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River Basin Management Plan Submission

July 21st, 2015 -- Posted in Active, Politics, River Basin Management | No Comments »

We have responded to the Minister Kelly’s Public Consultation Document and the full text is below.

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Firstly we would like to introduce ourselves and complement you on a superb document which has already created an excellent platform for cooperation. We hope we can offer something useful to you.

We are the River Vartry Protection Society and are formed and constituted based on a common thread running through our lives, the River Vartry. This is the River Basin we are particularly concerned with and knowledgeable about. We are comprised of all the Riparian Owners along the river and neighbours that surround the river. The vision was that if all these people dedicate themselves to protecting the river, and with our children, lock hands and keep all potential dangers away from the river, it will remain healthy and a natural habitat for the generations to come.

We have the knowledge, have researched the history of the River Vartry, and can act as an active resource for this River Basin. We feel that as a EU protected Salmonoid River, it is important that this resource is un-disturbed. We are active in opposing any planning or development within the Vartry River Basin that could damage the River.

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River Basin Management Plan

July 9th, 2015 -- Posted in Active, Politics, Polution, River Basin Management, Water Directive | No Comments »

The most important document for protection of the River Vartry is the EU regulated River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) which 4 years ago, we contributed to.  We were pleased with the result as the River Vartry was going to be declared “Heavily Modified”, due to the Reservoir.  Because of intervention of the Fisheries this was changed to the Upper and Lower Vartry.  The Lower being natural and unmodified, while the Upper was heavily modified.

Without the help of the Fisheries, it would have been the death of the river.  The plan had a requirement for defining Compensatory Flows for the river by 2015 but there were four responsible bodies, Wicklow County Council, EPA, Fisheries, and the Dublin Corp.  At the time we realised that this was an important decision but would be hard to force to implement as there were four bodies responsible and it would likely fall between the chairs.  Time proved us right.

It is not often that I get an opportunity to praise to the Government but Minister Alan Kelly for the Environment has done a superb job at preparing a Public Consultation Document to get public input prior to the Draft of the RBMP.  To understand just how much he wishes to do a good job, I quote from the introduction, “There is general acceptance that the governance arrangements put in place to deliver the first cycle of river basin management plans did not work well. Arrangements were overly-complex and responsibilities were poorly defined with no single body having overall responsibility for developing the plans and overseeing delivery of the programmes of measures.”  We have great hopes that this second cycle for the RBMP will be much more successful and address some of these weaknesses of the past.
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Vartry River Fish Kill

July 4th, 2012 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, Polution, Threats | No Comments »

In June 2012 there was a Fish Kill on the River Vartry which is being investigated by the Fisheries and reported on the website of Wicklow County Council. The cause has not yet been determined.

On Thursday the 28th we found a large 35 cm probably Sea Trout (or possibly Salmon) dead on the edge of the River. At first I thought that this was a positive sign since the fish seemed fully healthy and I presumed that death was caused by the flood the night before. While it is a positive sign to see such size fish in the river at this time, the negative issue of why and how such an event can happen is very upsetting.

I hope that we can have news soon of just how this happened and how it can be prevented in the future as the Fisheries work hard to get to the bottom of this.
Again “hats off” to the Fisheries for their diligence and continued support of the River Vartry which has taken it back from the brink to a good condition to host such fine fish. We can’t afford to loose them, but we hope that it is a preventable event that will not occur again and that we can recover from this.

A New Important Environmental Study for the River Vartry

August 30th, 2010 -- Posted in Active, Fish, River Basin Management | No Comments »

In this time of recession, we all tend to be busy keeping our “heads above water” but the fish are working to keep their “heads below water”. We had the biggest flood since Hurricane Charlie and drought this summer with the usual hopelessly low water conditions. It is an urgent situation that we now complete the initiative set out in the River Basin Management Plan for the Vartry and not wait until 2015 when it must be complete. It states “Establish Minimum Instream Flow Conditions and requirements for compensation releases to allow flow variations”. Nothing will be done if we are not proactive on this. Recession is a good time to push the authorities to set this Compensatory Flows (according to the EU law), since pressures of development are lessened.

At our first meeting in the fall, we discussed the “Scientific Approach” which was to find a way to equate “flow and level” to “oxygen and temperature” and the necessity of scientific help to develop this equation for the River Vartry. The Central Fisheries Board have been of great help to the River and us by encouraging John Clarke of UCD to make his MSc thesis on the Vartry River. We have been very lucky to have John doing this important work which hopefully will form the backbone of future work to insure that more water flows in the Vartry. John has taken measurements over the past months and is now formalising his results. Once he has published, we will hopefully be able to provide access to the complete study for everyone.
Thanks John from all of us.