Source to tap

Source to Tap: Update

Emily Cooper


The Source to Tap project is exploring sustainable and cost-effective measures to reduce water quality pressures that impact the River Erne and River Derg cross-border catchments. We are working to secure safe drinking water sources, healthier rivers and lakes, ensuring compliance with the EU Water Framework Directive. We are hoping to deliver a variety of environmental, social and economic benefits to the catchments. We have made the Derg Catchment a focus for our Pilot Land Incentive Scheme (LIS). The total catchment area of the Derg is 438 km². The River Derg and its tributaries have a channel length of approximately 60km. The 3 main areas we are focussing on are, colour, turbidity and MCPA. To date we have received expressions of interest from 200 landowners/farmers in the area. Over 150 of these landowners have received farm visits by our project officers to discuss potential improvements to their farm-yards and fields, each having also received a Water Environment Management Plan (WEMP). Among these farms we have offered 100% funding for over 3200 acres of weed-wiping to reduce MCPA getting into the river, 40 pesticide cabinets to help avoid spillages of harmful chemicals, 36km of stock fencing to keep livestock from poaching the river banks, 37 solar powered drinkers, 18 pasture pumps, 21 mains drinkers, 33 clean and dirty water separation projects to help our farmers yards, 5 tree planting projects to stabilise river banks, and 9 farmer innovation projects where the farmer has came up with an idea that would improve water quality on his farm. We’ve hosted a series of drop-in clinics in the Derg Catchment to help farmers source quotes for the work and for help and advice with their application and claims. Our Pilot Land Incentive scheme operates within the River Foyle and Tributaries Special Area of Conservation (SAC) an SAC which is of particular importance for its population of Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar, which is one of the largest in Europe and the Otter which is found throughout the system. We have to be extra cautious when suggesting certain measures near riverbanks. We received Otter Survey training from Dr. Jane Preston from ATEC NI Environmental Consultancy. This training will allow our project team to carefully plan the location of measures so that there will be no disturbance or harm to the holts and couches of the Otters that call the Derg catchment home. This €5.3 million project is funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA programme through the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) together with funding from the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland and the Department for Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) in Ireland. The project is delivered by a partnership, led by Northern Ireland Water and it includes Irish Water, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), East Border Region, Ulster University and The Rivers Trust.
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