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Six River Catchments the Focus of €20m Project to Improve Water Quality

2nd May 2022
The number of remaining high-status river sites has declined from 31.5% (1987-1990) to 19.9% (2017-2020), representing an almost 37% decline in number, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The number of remaining high-status river sites has declined from 31.5% (1987-1990) to 19.9% (2017-2020), representing an almost 37% decline in number, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency Credit: EPA/Waters of Life

Six river catchments are the focus of a 20 million euro project to reverse long term decline in Ireland’s “high status” waters.

The Waters of LIFE project involves 16 partners, including government departments, state agencies, local authorities, and local development companies, according to Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan.

High-status rivers are those considered to be in pristine condition and rich in biodiversity and Ireland is one of a small number of EU member states that still has a number of high-status water bodies, he said.

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm NoonanMinister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan

The number of remaining high-status sites has declined from 31.5% (1987-1990) to 19.9% (2017-2020), representing an almost 37% decline in number, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The six catchments included in this scheme are:

  • The Shournagh, Co Cork, near Tower and Blarney
  • The Awbeg, Co. Cork, near Kanturk
  • The Island River in the Galway/Roscommon area near Ballymoe
  • Rivers in the catchment of Lough Graney, Co. Clare
  • The Avonmore, Co. Wicklow
  • The Sheen, Kerry, as a control river for the strategic project

The total budget under this LIFE Integrated project is €20,369,805 of which €9,500,000 has been committed by the European Union.

The LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action, which has co-financed some 5000 projects across the EU since 1992.

Waters of LIFE project logo

“The ongoing loss of high-status waters is among the most concerning, protracted and persistent water quality trends in Ireland,” Noonan said.

“ The six high-status rivers selected for this scheme – and the communities, industries and local economy surrounding them – will benefit greatly from the implementation of locally-tailored solutions to be delivered through this scheme,” he added.

The LIFE programme has recorded a total contribution of approximately €6.5 billion for the protection of the environment and climate action. Its funded programmes are typically run by government agencies such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and local authorities, with the involvement of community groups, third level institutions, and private companies.

Noonan said that key objectives of the Waters of LIFE strategic project up to 2028 will aim to:

*Increase understanding of the causes of status change in these types of rivers, which can be sensitive to even minor land management changes within a catchment.

*Enhance public awareness of the ecology, ecosystems and natural capital of high-status waters and their catchments.

*Develop locally tailored solutions in consultation with local landowners and communities. This will include development of a results-based agricultural payments scheme, which will be implemented in three of the six catchments.

*Make recommendations that will inform the development of future agri-environment and forestry policies and provide for the long-term sustainable management of high-status catchments.

The project will include a demonstration project to develop, test, and validate integrated catchment management measures to halt and reverse the declining number of high-status water bodies in Ireland.

Further information can be found here

Published in Inland Waterways
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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