Water Protection – What Can You Do?

You are the solution to water pollution

We all have a responsibility to protect our rivers and lakes. Mans daily activities have an impact on the natural environment, some to a greater or lesser extent. By being environmentally aware and improving on the way you do things, you can actually make a difference and help revert the trend of water quality deterioration. Here are some suggestions:

In your Home

  • Always use a low phosphorus detergent. The concentration of phosphorus is detailed on the side of the packet. Products stating phosphorus level less than 5% is what you need to use.
  • Never discard household hazardous liquids by flushing into drains or down the sink or toilet. E.g. paint thinners, solvents, oil, unused paint or pesticides. If in doubt read the label on the product and check for hazard warnings. A skull and crossbones hazard warning label is a clear sign that a product is very harmful to you and the environment.
  • Ensure that soiled water (from sinks, washing machines, dishwashers etc.) is discharged into a sewer and not into a surface water drain.
  • Maintain your sewage treatment system in accordance with the suppliers recommendations
  • Septic tanks should be desludged a minimum of once per year or when
  • A scum is noticeable in the second chamber of the tank; and/or
    The depth of the sludge in the second compartment is greater than 400mm.
  • Never discard waste engine oil. Bring it safely to your local Waste Oil Recycling centre.

In your Community

  • Always bring home your rubbish. Litter finding it’s way into watercourses can cause damage to fish gills, damage the food of fish and can clog up spawning ground.
  • Litter at amenity areas and designated bathing areas can cause harm to other water users and can be very unsightly. It is essential that bathing areas such as Keeldra Lake are kept clear of litter as failure to do this may result in non-compliance with Bathing Water Regulations. 
  • Anglers should ensure that they steam clean their boats prior to launch of a boat on a lake or river that is not infected by zebra mussels. See attached information about zebra mussels. Leave the site clear of all litter and unused bate and fishing hooks.

On the Farm

  • Keep all dangerous substances stored safely and safe guard against accidental spillage. E.g. pesticides, veterinary products, oil, and artificial fertiliser. Any accidental spillages of harmful substances should be reported to the local authority. This is a requirement of law and failure to report an accidental spillage or discharge to waters may result in prosecution.
  • Provide and maintain gutters and eves runs for all roof water from farm buildings and divert to surface water or soak pit.
    Control and manage the collection and storage of all farmyard wastewater, including cattle manure, cattle slurry, silage effluent, soiled water from yards, manure heaps and dairy washings.
  • Pollution of surface water and wells should be avoided by leaving a buffer strip between the water source and the land
    • 5 metres for Streams and drains
    • 20 meters for lakes and main river channels
    • 50 metres for domestic wells
    • Up to 200 metres for Public Water Supply Sources
  • No chemical fertiliser should be applied within 1.5 metres of any watercourse.
  • Storage of farmyard wastes is required over the 20 weeks of winter/spring.

In County Leitrim the spreading of

  • Chemical fertiliser on land is prohibited form the 15th September to the 31st January.
  • Slurry or soiled water on land is prohibited from the 15th October to the 31st January.
  • Farmyard manure on land from the 1st November to the 31st January.

Never spread chemical fertiliser or farmyard wastes when heavy rain is forecast within the next 48 hours or on:

  • wet or waterlogged land
  • frozen or snow-covered land
  • land sloping steeply towards rivers, streams or lakes, on exposed bedrock or in situations where there is a significant risk of causing water pollution.

For further details on farm water protection and other good environmental practices consult the European Communities (Good Agricultural Practices for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2005 S.I. No 788 of 2005



  • EU Sturctural Fund
  • European Union