Kildare native and Irish Water Ecologist celebrates World Environment Day

To celebrate World Environment Day on Saturday, June 5, Irish Water is launching its Biodiversity Action Plan which sets out a national programme of measures to protect and enhance Ireland’s biodiversity at Irish Water’s vast network of sites.

Kate Harrington is an Ecologist working as part of Irish Water’s Environmental and Ecological Assessment team, providing ecological expertise and advice on the development of plans, delivery of projects and the operation of water and wastewater sites. Kate graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1998 with a Degree in Natural Science specialising in Zoology.

Speaking about World Environment Day and the utility’s Biodiversity Action Plan, Kate said, “The theme of World Environment Day 2021 is Ecosystem Restoration. By working responsibly, we can all play our part in halting the decline of Ireland’s rich biodiversity. We supply approximately 3.3 million people with approximately 1.7 billion litres of drinking water each day. We collect wastewater from over 1,000 separate communities and treat 1.6 billion litres of wastewater daily, before we safely discharge it back into our rivers, estuaries and coastal areas. We operate a vast network of more than 1,700 water and wastewater sites across the country. Through the delivery of our Biodiversity Action Plan we will deliver a programme of measures that benefit native local flora and fauna particularly invertebrates such as pollinating insects, helping biodiversity recovery and creating linkages between biodiversity hotspots.” 

Kate has always had an interest in the natural world and it was her Grandmother who she credits as being her inspiration: “As a child my grandmother was probably the person who most inspired me with her knowledge of birds and other creatures. I loved biology and earth sciences at school and inspiring lecturers in college led me towards studying zoology despite the fact there were few environmental jobs at that time!

Speaking about Irish Water’s ambitious plan, Kate said, “Working with our Local Authority partners we have already made progress in relation to biodiversity protection across many of our sites including in Ballymore Eustace, the site of Ireland’s largest water treatment plant occupying 56 hectares where biodiversity measures have been in place for several years, with habitats including wildflower meadows and native woodlands.

Kate added that, “By cutting grass less regularly at our sites common wildflowers such as Clovers, Knapweed and Bird’s-foot-trefoil can naturally grow amongst the long grass. This is a simple yet effective way to provide food for pollinators and other insects.

To find out more about these and the other biodiversity actions being carried out by Irish Water, visit the Biodiversity section of our website.

Kate Harrington, Ecologist