Variety of initiatives highlight source protection dynamism

Left: Ben Malone, of the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), with John Masterson, standing next to John’s beehive. John is one of the participants in the ‘Let It Bee’ initiative in Erne Valley GWS, which is funded by LAWPRO. Top right: Fencing measures put in place alongside a stream in the Stranooden GWS catchment. Bottom Right: Attendees at the recent slurry application and water awareness training day in Roscommon.

Significant progress has been made in recent months on a number of ongoing source protection projects around the country, funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

In Cavan, fencing and smart buffer zone installation has been completed on three farms in the Crosserlough GWS catchment, while farm fencing requirements are currently out to tender for two more farmers who were eager to get involved in the project.

Following a visit from Ger Dunne of Green Belt, the three aforementioned farmers are also investigating the application process for the native woodland scheme to protect their community water source.

A pesticide awareness training day is planned for early in 2022, while the fencing on a farm in the Erne Valley GWS catchment is due to begin in the springtime when ground conditions allow.

Drinking water fountains are due to be installed shortly in the localities of both Crosserlough GWS and in Glinsk Creggs GWS, Galway.

The Galway group water scheme has successfully completed works to reinstate river banks and install fencing and smart buffer zones on six farms in its catchment. The National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Ruth Dillon also visited Glinsk Creggs GWS and a number of group water schemes in Roscommon to catch up on work done to date and to offer her expert advice.

Roscommon

Speaking of County Roscommon, the NFGWS and Kieran Kenny, of Teagasc’s Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP), recently ran a very successful training day focused on waterbody awareness during slurry application, which was attended by 30 agricultural contractors and their staff.

Fencing has also been put in place in Oran Ballintubber GWS, while two ponds have been installed and significant fencing works carried out to protect a sinking stream in the Mid-Roscommon GWS catchment.

In late 2021, members of Corracreigh GWS, who have been involved in the scheme's source protection project, took the time to talk to the NFGWS about the work they've completed to date.

Weather permitting, Stranooden GWS, Co Monaghan, hopes to be finished its current tranche of source protection measures by mid-March, while more farms in the catchment have recently made approaches to partake in future initiatives.

A forestry licensing application for three hectares of native woodland to protect water in the catchment is in progress. The GWS will also soon be officially affiliated to the Erne Rivers Trust as “Friends of Dromore” associate members and hopes to engage with all group water schemes in the catchment of the Dromore river system to get involved.

ISPPs

Funded by the DHLGH, work has been progressing well to develop integrated source protection plans (ISPP) for first five group water schemes in the ISPP project — namely Glinsk Creggs GWS, Crosserlough GWS, Erne Valley GWS, Lough Carra GWS and Killaturley GWS.

Furthermore, catchment characterisation work has commenced in the zone of contribution (ZOC) for Clomantagh Killashulan GWS in County Kilkenny, with consultant engineers carrying out investigative work at a number of karst sites within the ZOC.

Top left: Crosserlough GWS chairperson, Séamus Galligan, with Ger Dunne, Greenbelt, and local father and son, Lewis and Robin Atchinson, who are exploring the possibilty of planting native woodland on their farm to help protect the GWS water source. Right: Corraceigh GWS member and Let it Bee participant, Tommy Farrell receives a special plaque to recognise his efforts. Bottom left: Glinsk Creggs GWS manager, Shane Curley, examines a pollutant-impact potential (PIP) map during a catchment walk as part of the integrated source protection planning process.

In November 2021, consultants, in conjunction with the NFGWS, conducted catchment walks at potential Critical Source Areas (CSAs) within a sub-catchment of Carrowmore Lough, drinking water source for PBKS GWS, County Mayo. Small Stream Risk Score (SSRS) assessments were also completed at suitable locations within the sub-catchment in an effort to further define CSAs.

Water quality sampling is also underway for both of these group water schemes in advance of ISPP development.

Herbicide monitoring

Last year, the CatchmentCARE Project completed an acid herbicide monitoring programme at a number of locations that are within the Emy Lough catchment, which is the drinking water source for the Glaslough Tyholland GWS in Monaghan.

The results of this sampling are currently being reviewed, with the view to progressing source protection actions in the catchment this year.

Joe Beggan, manager of Glaslough Tyholland Group Water Scheme, and Patrick McCabe, source protection officer with the NFGWS, met with Alan McCabe and Tom Woods of CatchmentCARE in November and they visited a number of sites in the catchment where CatchmentCARE and the Blackwater Catchment River Trust have commenced source protection initiatives.

I’ve planted a tree

Meanwhile, pupils in eight primary schools in the Lough Carra Catchment, County Mayo, were given an early Christmas present in December, with each child receiving a native tree to plant at home.

Funded by the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) and organised by the Lough Carra Catchment Association as part of the NFGWS ‘I’ve planted a tree and my garden is pesticide free’ initiative, each of the pupils and teachers also received an information pack on alternatives to pesticides and simple things they can do to promote biodiversity in their gardens.

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.