Minister Gormley launches new wetlands initiative at Castle Leslie

17 December 2010 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Cianna McNally

MINISTER for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley launched a major new guidance document on Integrated Constructed Wetlands (ICW) in the elegant surroundings of Castle Leslie, Glaslough on Monday, 13 December.

The Minister stated that the volume launched has a particular focus on the treatment of farmyard soiled water and domestic wastewater and stated that the launch was held in a particularly appropriate setting close to the Glaslough ICW, which Minister Gormley described as a fine example of the technology in practice. He praised Monaghan County Council for being especially progressive in their development of the Glaslough ICW system and described the launch as a positive news story “in the midst of all the doom and gloom.” Below is Minister Gormley’s speech in full.

“The use of ICWs to treat waste water is something that I have taken a keen interest in as a sustainable means of water management. This Document is the culmination of years of research and development of ICW systems which has made Ireland an acknowledged leader in the field. It is intended that this Guidance will facilitate development of increasing numbers of ICWs throughout the country and raise awareness among practitioners in the field of water management of the wide spectrum of ecosystem services they provide.

Because ICWs are not simply concerned with waste water treatment. In addition to this core function, they can support biodiversity and play a role in flood attenuation. These services are provided in a sustainable and cost effective way using local materials and local workers. ICWs are less about the concrete tanks and pumps associated with conventionally engineered waste water treatment plants and more about soft engineering, aquatic plants and landscape-fit.

In common with many of our European neighbours Ireland has lost most of its natural wetlands over centuries of human habitation. In the nineteenth century, coastal wetlands such as Wexford’s North and South Slobs were drained as polders for agricultural purposes. Rivers were deepened and straightened for navigation. New railways and roads strode on causeways across wetlands. ICWs have the potential to begin a modest reversal of these losses and to provide many of the ecosystem services of the lost natural wetlands.

Full story in the Northern Standard

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