In a headline article in The Irish Times on the 1st June 2016, it states that the abolition of the charges would put Ireland in breach of European rules on the water framework directive and Europe’s “polluter pays” principle. What is the Polluter Pays Principle?
In 1992 at the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development – Principle 16 states: “National authorities should endeavor to promote the internalization of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account the approach that the polluter should in principle bear the cost of pollution, with due regard to the public interest…”
If for example person A spoils the previously unpolluted local environment of persons A, B, C and D – is it not reasonable to ask person A to pay the cost to treat or mitigate the pollution that was caused? Better again – if person A chooses to spend money instead on a system that will permanently prevent and avoid future pollution – should persons B, C and D not permit him and encourage him to do so?
The civil servants in the Department of Environment need to begin encouraging the use of urine separating toilets and composting toilets by amending Part H of the Irish Building Regulations. The recovery, the safe treatment and management of these separated nutrient resources need to be permitted and encouraged. If more homeowners were permitted to install such systems there would be a growing and progressive reduction of the waste water pollution going to overloaded sewage treatment works. Our society would gradually and most importantly begin to recycle nitrogen and phosphorus safely back to agriculture. The phosphorus that we use to grow crop and that we get from mining will become exhausted in 3 to 5 generations time. By preventing this progressive clean phosphorus recycling method we are left with the present dependency on centralized sewage treatment system where toxic metals collect in municipal sewage sludge. If applied to lands for agriculture these metals would begin to accumulate in our soils or food crops or the environment.
Half the citizens in Ireland want the State to be liable under the Polluters Pays Principle. Another half of our citizens want homeowners to pay. I’m sure in the long run that there will be a lower cost to all the parties under the “Polluter Pays Principle” if every home around the world is encouraged and permitted to “avoid and prevent” making waste water pollution by recycling urine.