Journey continues for GWSs involved in ISPP project

A before and after photo of a mitigation measure installed on a farm in the Glaslough Tyholland GWS source catchment in Co. Monaghan. The fencing prevents livestock access to the stream.

As the curtain drew on the NFGWS source protection pilot project Phase II, its current integrated source protection planning and mitigation actions project is set for a busy period. Almost all of the completed integrated source protection plans (ISPPs) have been presented to participating GWSs, with appointed consultants putting the finishing touches to any remaining ISPPs.

Upon completion, the bespoke ISPPs are presented to GWS staff and board members to ensure that their key messages are adequately communicated. Following the presentation of Ballacolla GWS’s plan last November, ISPPs were presented to Blackstairs GWS, Glinsk Creggs GWS, Lough Carra GWS and Erne Valley GWS, Crosserlough GWS, PBKS GWS and Kilaturley GWS during January and February.

Mitigation actions

The majority of planned mitigation actions in GWSs taking part in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine funded element of the project have also been implemented.

Significant fencing projects were completed in Co. Cavan’s Crosserlough GWS and Erne Valley GWS, Kilaturley GWS and Lough Carra in Mayo, and in Glinsk Creggs GWS, Co. Galway, and Glaslough-Tyholland GWS, Co. Monaghan. These on-farm fences have created extensive buffer zones in critical sources areas to help prevent pollutant run-off into water courses. Where necessary, GWSs have also provided alternative drinking sources for livestock that would previously have drank directly from rivers/streams.

Crosserlough GWS and Lough Carra GWS installed drinking water refill stations in their locality. The stations provide public access to drinking water and are branded with source protection messaging that encourages the community to be mindful of water-friendly practices.

Crosserlough GWS chairperson and secretary, Séamus Galligan and Michael Donohoe, next to a new drinking water refill station installed by the GWS for public use and to encourage water-friendly actions.

World Water Day event

A World Water Day event, hosted in Lough Carra GWS, highlighted the work of the project through a special outside broadcast by Midwest Radio and in a pull-out magazine that was published in that week’s Connacht Telegraph.

Other planned actions

Along with a number of other awareness raising initiatives across the number of GWSs regarding issues related to pesticide contamination, Glaslough Tyholland GWS is offering a weed-licking service to farmers in its catchment throughout the traditional spraying season this year.

Some remaining fencing projects were put on hold because of the wet weather but are hoped to soon recommence. The NFGWS is liaising with Teagasc’s Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) and Lough Carra LIFE to organise a training event for agricultural contractors working in the catchment, regarding best practices for the protecting water quality during slurry application.

Source protection will remain high on the agenda for GWSs long after the NFGWS project is complete, with Crosserlough GWS and Glaslough Tyholland GWS already planning for further ISPP implementation.

This article originally featured in the most recent edition of the Rural Water News magazine. To read the full edition and to sign up to our magazine mailing list, click here.