Clear Waters by Shelby Payanis

On the shores of Inisheer

Standing on the shores of the Aran Islands is like being on a beach at a resort in the Caribbean. The water is as clear and as blue as the sky on a clear sunny day, and the sand is soft in between your toes like butter.

When we arrived at the first Aran Island that we visited (Inishmoor) I remember asking one man – “How come your ocean looks as clear and as blue as the water in the Caribbean?” He smiled and giggled at my question and then said to me – “We care about our waters and the animals within them…There are seals and other creatures that need a good place to live too.” I thought that this was interesting because there are several groups in America who work every day to protect our aquatic wildlife, but yet, our waters stay dark, murky and polluted.

The waves crash up on shore.

I learned that in 2007 parts of County Galway (which is near the Aran Islands) experienced an outbreak of Cryptosporidium – a parasite that can cause serious stomach problems. It was said that water pollution was the cause of this outbreak, and as a result many people had to boil any water that they were going to consume. Like anything else in the world, it usually takes a tragedy to create change, but it seems as though the country, and county, came together to make a difference – and a fast one at that. It has been ten years since that outbreak and their bodies of water could not look any better. Perhaps it was the overwhelming sense of community in the country that enabled the change to come so quickly, but whatever it was, we definitely need a change like this one back in the states.

Although this country does a great job on cutting back on the amount of water pollution and water consumption in the country, I do have to admit that there are an overwhelming amount of water bottles sold in Ireland. In every store that we went to there were several different brands of water bottles for sale, and they all featured a notice on the back that read – “Must be consumed within three days.” This means that if someone had a water bottle sitting in their house for a week or so, then they would go out and buy another one instead of drinking the water or refilling the plastic bottle. I later learned that, “Irish consumers spent more than €76.5 million on bottled water,” which is a lot of money that could be going towards better causes.

I believe that the citizens of Ireland need to be informed of these facts. They are doing a great job in helping our Earth, but this is one of the biggest issues not only in this country, but around the globe, that needs to change. If the country can ensure clean and safe drinking water for its people, then more and more people should be taking the time to use refillable water bottles.

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