The Rivers Trust has been shortlisted in the Animals & the Environment category for its Source to Tap project, which successfully tackled agricultural pollution from livestock and pesticides and restored damaged peat on cross border river catchments between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The Charity Awards, which announces its shortlist today (3 May), is the sector’s most highly-regarded excellence recognition scheme. All 30 shortlisted charities this year have been judged by an independent panel of sector leaders as having demonstrated best practice in leadership and management, from which other organisations can learn.
The Source to Tap Project piloted sustainable, cost-effective¸ catchment management measures to reduce pollution and contribute to improvements in cross-border raw water quality in the River Erne and River Derg catchment areas designed to protect source drinking water catchments, while making the findings freely accessible to all.
Land management practices can cause high concentrations of the herbicide methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) in drinking water source catchments, and loss of soil and organic material causes variations in colour and turbidity in the raw water abstracted from our rivers and lakes, creating challenges during water treatment. Removing the chemicals from drinking water requires intensive water treatment, use of other chemicals and high levels of sludge production. This increases water treatment costs, energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
These chemicals also have an impact on wildlife, the ecological status of rivers and fish populations with many of these species being in decline in the rivers in question and in Northern Ireland more generally.
The herbicide was used widely by farmers to control the growth of rushes in fields which compete with grass and reduce profitability. An alternative method had to be provided to persuade farmers to change their behaviour away from spraying and to a more targeted approach that uses far less volume of chemical treatment. There were also ecological and drinking water supply problems associated with excrement and damage to river banks from livestock getting into rivers, degraded peat and forestry operations causing sediment and nutrient pollution of rivers, which were solved with direct grants and innovative techniques to restore peatlands.
The 10 category winners, plus the recipients of the Overall Award for Excellence and the Daniel Phelan Award for Outstanding Achievement, will be announced at a black-tie dinner on 7 June, held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.
The evening will be hosted by broadcaster and commentator Ayesha Hazarika, who will be joined on the night by a host of celebrities, representatives of the shortlisted charities, as well as leaders from Britain’s best known and best loved charities.
Matthew Nolan, chief executive of Civil Society Media, which organises the Charity Awards, congratulated The Rivers Trust on making the highly-coveted shortlist. He said:
“The external environment in which the sector is operating has seldom been more challenging, yet charities continue to inspire us with their imagination, ambition and professionalism.
“Everything that we do at Civil Society Media aims to help charities be more effective, and for the last 22 years the Charity Awards has highlighted and honoured the sector’s great work. All the charities on this year’s shortlist have scored highly against our six Hallmarks of Excellence, and ought to be immensely proud of their achievements.
“I wish The Rivers Trust the very best of luck on the night.”
Peter Hugh Smith, chief executive at CCLA, Overall Partner of the Charity Awards, said:
“Given everything that charities have been through over the last few years, it is vitally important that we continue to promote their endeavours and celebrate excellence in charity management and leadership. This is why CCLA is proud to be the Charity Awards’ Overall Partner again this year – so we can play our part in highlighting the fantastic work of charities large and small, right across the UK.
“The Rivers Trust fully deserves its place on the shortlist and we wish their team the very best of luck.”