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12. Working with local communities to protect the Maigue - Tom Harrington, Maigue Rivers Trust


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On 17 and 18 June 2020 the EPA held its National Water Event as an online conference.

This year's theme was 'Restoring our waters'.

This years event was free to attend. It was the EPA's largest water event ever, with over 1250 attending.

To everyone who joined us: thanks for attending; thanks for your probing questions; thanks for your passion; thanks for caring about our waters. We can achieve more working together.

Special thanks to all our presenters and the team who worked behind the scenes to make sure this years conference happened.

For science and stories about water quality in Ireland, check out

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12. Working with local communities to protect the Maigue - Tom Harrington, Maigue Rivers Trust

  1. 1. Working With Local Communities To Protect The Maigue Tom Harrington Maigue Rivers Trust
  2. 2. Adare River Maigue Catchment Source: EPA Maps Priority Area for Action • Sub catchment of Lr. Shannon. •1020 km2 •Lowland Co. Limerick. •Limestone geology. •Highly productive ecology. •Intensive, grass-based agriculture. •Formerly important spring salmon river •Brown Trout fishery •Camogue PAA
  3. 3. River Waterbody WFD Status 2013-2018 Majority of the 33 monitoring points have Moderate or Poor WFD status and have an “Unsatisfactory Condition”. Two sites improved, 7 declined since the last assessment, rest unchanged. Environmental issues in the Maigue Catchment 1. Unsatisfactory water quality caused by nutrient pollution • Main pressures-agriculture and UWWTPs
  4. 4. 2. Invasive plants and animals Giant Hogweed infests much of main channel Mink Crayfish plague caused by Aphanomyces astaci
  5. 5. •3. Poor Hydromorphology Legacy of drainage and poor riparian zone management •Much of catchment heavily modified •Negative impacts on aquatic biodiversity •Compounded by climate change (low summer water levels) in future?
  6. 6. 4. Habitat loss -riparian habitat removal
  7. 7. Barriers to Fish Migration 5. Barriers to Fish Migration 13 weirs dams, and other artificial barriers to fish migration in Maigue catchment Bruree Croom
  8. 8. How the Maigue Rivers Trust came to be The Maigue Rivers Trust grew out of a community response to a serious fish kill in 2014 •This and other pressures highlighted the need for a new way of caring for rivers that relied less on top down regulation and more on developing a sense of stewardship for our rivers. •The Trust was established in 2016, with •unstinting support from Limerick City and County Council, and Mark Horton from the River Trust. •Has charitable status and is a company limited by guarantee. •Our general mission is “To protect, enhance and cherish the rivers and lakes of the Maigue catchment for the benefit and enjoyment of all”.
  9. 9. Aidan Gleeson Farming Tom Harrington -Chairperson- Conservation/ Wild life Rhiannon Laubach Local Development Catherine Dalton Education/ Research Eddie Ryan Local Government Sybren Oggel Tourism/ leisure Dave Buston Angling Veronica Santorum Business Noreen Ryan Education Carmel Fox Finance Anne Goggin Local Authority Liaison Liz Gabbett MRT Project Officer Non-directors Directors of the Maigue Rivers Trust -10 representing the 3 pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environment.
  10. 10. • Meetings with angling clubs to discuss priorities. Fisheries and water quality reports (on website) • Support for angling clubs to secure funding from SCF and NSAD. • Funding from Castlepooke Windfarm Community Fund to research fishing rights-access is an issue! • Website ( and Newsletter • Meetings with local communities community groups and other stakeholders to establish priorities. Bruff 2017 Working with Communities
  11. 11. We gather information and make it available in a more condensed form on our website. To address knowledge gaps we commissioned studies. These were funded by LEADER, Community Water Development Fund, Castlepooke Windfarm Fund Addressing Information Deficits
  12. 12. Signage, highlighting the catchment and its biodiversity Bruree
  13. 13. Community Events The Music and Magic of The Maigue Festival of Fun on The Maigue
  14. 14. Public kayaking event June 2018 and June 2019. 50 participants, Heritage Council funding.
  15. 15. Community Participation in Citizen Science MRT ran two workshops on water quality monitoring using the Small Stream Characterisation methodology, delivered by Prof. Ken Whelan. Trained 30 participants in water quality assessment using macroinvertebrates. From this grew a volunteer group that monitor smaller streams in the catchment that are not in the EPA network but very important for biodiversity and fish spawning MRT volunteers sampling the Drumcomoge, May 2019
  16. 16. HELP BRING BACK THE SALMON -THE DRUMCOMOGE PROJECT From the work of that volunteer group, we developed, with the help of funding from LAWPRO and its CWD Fund, a proposal for enhancement of the salmon spawning potential of the R. Dromcomoge, a headwater of the Maigue. Now looking for funds to implement this
  17. 17. European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Proposal The Trust developed a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) proposal 2017 around agriculture and water quality (Water and Agriculture: Delivering Environmental Sustainability) The project did not secure funding as it was deemed too expensive, but a very positive outcome was that the Trust forged very strong links with the farmers, farming organisations and dairy co-ops along with Ballyhoura Development, IFI and a range of other stakeholders. The Operational Group is still active.
  18. 18. • Funded by EPA/Mary Immaculate College • PhD research project commenced Jan 2020. Donna Wiener is the researcher • Project partners: Rivers Trust, Local Community, , Community Water Officer • Objectives: • Co-monitor and develop appropriate citizen science programmes • Develop a spirit of stewardship towards the river through citizen science • Mainstream catchment-scale citizen science initiatives River Environmental Stewardship Project
  19. 19. The Irish River Trust Resilience Project In late 2019, LAWPRO and The Rivers Trust announced the Irish Rivers Trust Resilience Pilot Project- major development for supporting community action in managing the local water environment •Funding to the Maigue and Inishowen RTs to each employ a project officer for 3 years to help them transform from fledgling volunteer-led to self-sustaining charities capable of delivering on their core objectives and catchment-scale projects. •It will allow the trusts to engage with communities and support community involvement in managing their local waterbodies at a level that was not possible up to now. •Still funding challenges: funding is reducing each year; many funders do not permit any % be used for supporting staff employment costs. A policy change is needed nationally across departments.
  20. 20. The Future •We need to expand awareness and education outreach. •The trust also needs to recruit a broader network of supporters/volunteers. We are currently looking at creating a portal for this purpose on our website. •We are also working on a brief for a recreation and leisure study for the catchment. •A focus in the future will also be implementing the recommendations of the baseline studies, many of which relate to habitat improvement. We will be getting more active on the ground with landowners and other stakeholders •We are working towards an integrated management plan for the catchment which will have a shared vision of the catchment based on economic and environmental sustainability.
  21. 21. The Maigue Rivers Trust thank for their support: Ballyhoura Development Limerick City and County Council LAWPRO Mark Horton, The River Trust Ruairi O’Conchubhair, Community Water Officer LEADER The Heritage Council J P McManus Fund Castlepooke Windfarm Fund Inland Fisheries Ireland Dr William O’Connor, ECOFACT Croom Development Association Limerick Arts Office Ballyhoura Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann Limerick LCDC Mary Immaculate College Thank you for your attention!