September Water Cafe with Ella McSweeney

Friday the 24th of September marked the weekend of #WorldRiversDay.  We celebrated the occasion by holding our monthly virtual Water Café and had the pleasure of hosting broadcaster and journalist Ella McSweeney.  Ella, a science graduate and wildly successful journalist and broadcaster, has dedicated her career to reporting on environmental and agricultural topics, and we were very interested to hear her speak. Our audience had over 30 people attend with backgrounds from academia, industry and public sector bodies.

Ella gave a poignant and personal, thought-provoking discussion on the current state of Irish water bodies, pollution events, and its impact on communities all across the country.

She spoke about the impact of pollution events on the farming community, how farmers are battling with a long-standing issue of eutrophication and excess nitrogen in our waters, the effect this has had on agricultural productivity and the survival of small communities. We heard about the state of our recreational waters and the need for year-round monitoring systems to protect swimmers and our irreplaceable natural resources.

The underlying theme of this month’s water cafe was the slow change in attitude governing bodies have displayed regarding environmental protection. As we enter a decade of action against climate change, we are reminded that agricultural practices depend on the health of natural resources like our water bodies. The policy around these industries is slow to change. Ella reminds us that “agriculture is a big ship, and big ships are slow to turn”. Everyone has a role to play in protecting the environment, from governing bodies that establish legislation to individual communities and workers on the local level. We all have our part to play!

The Water Café ended with a fascinating discussion with a range of questions from our audience on policy, behavioural change, environmental impacts, the pearl muscle story and citizen engagement.

We would like to sincerely thank Ella for her time and discussing interesting experiences and perspectives on the environmental challenges we face today.

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