Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, addressed the Acclimatize End of Project Event: Partnership, Delivery and Impact, with Professor Orla Feely, UCD President-Elect and Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact.
The Acclimatize team welcomed partners and stakeholders / bathing water quality professionals from Ireland and Wales to UCD to share and celebrate the successes of this €9.2 million six-year project. Acclimatize was led by University College Dublin together with Aberystwyth University in Wales, and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Programme 2014-2020.
Acclimatize focused on bathing waters in two complementary environments, a large scale urban and a rural agricultural environment. The large scale urban environment is represented in the project by bathing waters in Dublin Bay (Sandymount, Merrion and Dollymount strands) and North County Dublin (Donabate (Balcarrick Beach) and Portrane (Brook Beach) whereas the rural agricultural environment focused on bathing waters (Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, Traeth y Dolau / New Quay North, Ceredigion, Traeth Gwyn, Ceredigion and Nolton Haven, Pembrokeshire) in Wales.
Professor Wim Meijer, Head, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, who is leading the Acclimatize project said, “The research established an excellent understanding of the microbial and hydrodynamic characteristics of the streams, rivers and bathing waters in the Acclimatize study area. This knowledge enables our project partners to make evidence-based, targeted interventions to improve water quality in these areas. Furthermore, our increased understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on bathing water quality enables our partners to future proof investments aimed at improving water quality”.
Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, said, “Research studies such as the Acclimatize project are fundamental in providing strong scientific evidence for policy development. This is a wonderful example of third-level institutions and implementing bodies working together to protect our beautiful natural amenities. I have no doubt that the success of this project is a result of bringing together the wealth of ideas, knowledge, learning and real working experiences of each organisation involved.”
Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, Welsh Government said, “Good quality bathing waters are important for providing physical and mental health, well-being and other social and cultural benefits for coastal communities, visitors and the economy in Wales. Acclimatize has led to a better understanding of the effects of climate change through altered weather patterns, affecting rainfall, temperature and tides which impact on coastal areas. It is an excellent example of a collaborative project between Ireland and Wales tackling a key issue such as climate change, which is integral to our ambitions moving forward”.
Professor Orla Feely, UCD President-Elect and Vice-President for Research, Impact and Innovation, said, “UCD’s strategic theme ‘Building a Healthy World’ recognises the importance of One Health as an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimise the health of people, animals and ecosystems. Acclimatize is an exemplar of this approach, demonstrating how water quality can link and improve health and well-being in humans and other animal species”.
Professor David Kay, Centre for Research into Environment and Health, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, who is leading the project in Wales said, “Acclimatize has given us the opportunity to test some of the scientific assumptions surrounding bathing waters. The answers were surprising, but remarkably consistent both within and between the Acclimatize partners in Ireland and Wales. These lessons have been used directly to inform policy design within both the European Community and the World Health Organisation”.
Roy O’Connor, Chair of the Dublin Bay Bathing Water Task Force said “The Acclimatize project has delivered a significant and meaningful impact on our understanding of the levels and sources of faecal contamination entering Dublin Bay bathing waters. The practical knowledge and insights impact how local authority staff investigate and remediate near shore pollution and has allowed them to focus resources in a more ‘result driven’ way, from which we are now beginning to see the positive impacts on water quality, in particular at Merrion Strand”.
Claire Coleman, Environmental Strategy Lead, Uisce Éireann said “The Acclimatize project analyses have helped Uisce Éireann improve our understanding of the role wastewater infrastructure plays in bathing water quality in Dublin Bay. The primary outcome being the identification of multiple pressures on our beaches and the need for a collaborative, multi-agency approach to deliver improvements in bathing water quality”.
Hamish Osborn, Chair of the Water Health Partnership (Wales) said “This project has broken new ground in terms of understanding the detail of how water quality behaves at a range of key bathing beaches. It is striking, for example, how similar patterns in the diurnal variability of bathing water quality have been measured independently in both Ireland and Wales”.
In Ireland, project partners include Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership, the Environmental Protection Agency, Fingal County Council, Uisce Éireann and Waterways Ireland. In Wales, the team worked with the Water Health Partnership (Wales) which includes representatives from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh local authorities, the Welsh Government and relevant non-governmental organisations.
Read the programme here.