The closing period of 2022 was a particularly busy time for capital-funded source protection projects, with planned works drawing to a close on pilot group water schemes in Roscommon and Monaghan.
The pilot project, which had been funded under the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme (MARWP), has seen remarkable levels of community engagement and a legacy of physical measures that have been targeted in specific areas of GWS source catchments/zones of contribution (ZOC) to help prevent pollution.
In the final few months of the project, Mid-Roscommon GWS worked with three local farmers to install fencing as well as extensive buffer zones and trees. On one particular farm, the GWS has followed recommendations of a ecohydrological assessment by installing a series of ‘leaky dams’ within a drainage channel/sinking stream that is hydrogeologically connected and has been traced to one of its spring sources. In a further effort to capture and store sediment, a silt mat has been placed in between each dam to take advantage of the reduction in water velocity achieved.
The GWS has also recently completed protection works around its Ogulla source, including the erection of public signage. Elsewhere in the county, fencing and buffer zone installation has been completed on a farm in the Pollacat Springs GWS ZOC, while Gorthaganny GWS has upgraded the weatherproofing protection of its spring chambers.
With over 10km of fencing completed at targeted locations, along with extensive bank revetment and buffer zone installation, Stranooden GWS its now turning its attention to the next phase of its source protection journey.
In areas where bank revetment has been completed, additional protection is required to ensure longlasting bank stabilisation. Through a collaboration with the Friends of Dromore community organisation, the GWS will be planting over 750 fruit trees along such banks. By planting the trees 4-5 metres apart, their roots will stabilise the riverbanks yet avoid overshading the river.
The GWS has also identified over six hectares of areas in vulnerable parts of its catchment that may be suited to the ‘Forests for Water’ measure of the recently proposed Forestry Programme 2023–2030. It is liaising with landowners in regard to progressing this potential measure. The GWS will be continuing to work closely with farmers to combat MCPA issues in specific areas of the catchment.
An extensive report on the overall achievements and learnings from phase two of the source protection pilot is being prepared by the NFGWS and will be published in early 2023.
As highlighted, although the pilot project has drawn to close, source protection works will need to continue in each GWS. Ongoing maintenance is essential and measures will be needed in other critical source areas of some of the more complex catchments.
Meanwhile, work continues on the ongoing integrated source protection planning (ISPP) and mitigation actions project which has been funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).
ISPP presentation meetings with GWSs are ongoing and will be completed in the coming months. Mitigation measures have recently been implemented in Crosserlough GWS and Erne Valley GWS in Co.Cavan, Kilaturley GWS, Co. Mayo, and Glinsk Creggs GWS, Co. Galway. Glaslough Tyholland GWS, Co. Monaghan, is also installing fencing in its catchment and will be running significant community engagement initiatives during 2023, targeting the issue of pesticide contamination.
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.