Source protection projects gather pace

Work has been moving along at pace across a number of drinking water source protection projects on group water schemes around the country.

In Mid-Roscommon GWS, source protection measures are currently being put in place on two farms, with two more projects scheduled to begin shortly. Works include fencing along water courses and the installation of a pond to intercept overland flow.

John Hession is one of the farmers working with Mid-Roscommon GWS to implement source protection measures on his land.

Also in Roscommon, a fencing project will soon begin on a farm in the Oran Ballintubber GWS catchment, while five farmers have signed up for fencing, river bank reinstatement and smart buffer zone measures in Glinsk Creggs GWS, County Galway. Work on this project commenced in early October following the appointment of a contractor.

Meanwhile in County Cavan, a contractor is installing fencing on three farms in the Crosserlough GWS catchment, which will also include the creation of smart buffer zones. Another farmer has agreed to come on board and the fencing requirements are currently out to tender.

Erne Valley Group Water Scheme has also had its first farmer sign up to its source protection project. The scheme will be planting smart buffers during the coming tree-planting season and installing fencing whenever weather allows in the springtime.

Community awareness

As education is integral to the success of any source protection project, a number of initiatives are in the pipeline, aimed at raising awareness among group water scheme members about potential contaminants.

Glinsk Creggs GWS manager, Shane Curley, during a ground-proofing walk as part of the integrated source protection planning process.

The NFGWS is currently working with Teagasc’s Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) to deliver a course around slurry application for contractors in Roscommon, and a pesticide awareness training day is also planned for farmers in Crosserlough.

Both of these courses are planned to take place in November, while Ken Bucke of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) visited Roscommon and Cavan in October to speak with farmers on the benefits of native woodland trees.

In Erne Valley GWS, The Local Authorities Water Programme (LAWPRO) has provided funding for the roll-out of the award-winning ‘Let it Bee’ initiative, which has enabled five local farming families to get involved in the art of beekeeping. They have been provided with bees and all the necessary equipment, along with mentorship from local beekeeper, Alan Brady.

Let it Bee and the overall source protection projects in Cavan and Monaghan received local media coverage when NFGWS Source Protection Pilot Project Programme Lead, Seán Corrigan, was a guest on Northern Sound FM’s ‘The Wider View’ current affairs show in September.

ISPPs

The first draft of the Integrated Source Protection Plan (ISPP) prepared for Glinsk Creggs GWS has been submitted for review. It is anticipated that this draft will be finalised over the coming weeks. Additionally, four other ISPPs — for Crosserlough GWS, Erne Valley GWS, Lough Carra GWS and Killaturley GWS — are also scheduled for completion before the end of autumn.

Field work is scheduled to commence in the coming weeks for the remaining nine ISPPs that are part of the project.

Stranooden GWS has carried out source protection works within the Derryvalley stream sub-catchment, including bank revetment and the installation of smart buffer zones.

Stranooden GWS

The Stranooden GWS boom sprayer initiative has seen 67 sprayers in the catchment serviced and fitted with low drift nozzles.

A committee member has completed a boom sprayer inspection course that will enable the scheme to expedite the certification process and thus become completely self-sufficient throughout the whole boom sprayer servicing process. The group water scheme hopes to finish any outstanding works before the next spraying season.

The scheme has carried major bank revetment works — with accompanying bank sloping, boulder shoulders and willow planting — in a number of strategic locations within the Derryvalley stream sub-catchment. These significant works have included fencing on agricultural land to prevent livestock access and protect the integrity of the supported banks.

Funding

All of the above projects have been funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), with the implementation of measures in Glinsk Creggs GWS, Erne Valley GWS and Crosserlough GWS funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

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