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4. Two years on the ground identifying problems and fixing them - Carol McCarthy, LAWPRO


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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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4. Two years on the ground identifying problems and fixing them - Carol McCarthy, LAWPRO

  1. 1. Two Years on the Ground Identifying Problems and Fixing Them Carol McCarthy The Local Authority Waters Programme 17th June 2020
  2. 2. Slide 2
  3. 3. The Culture of Rivers • You cannot cross a river without getting wet (Zulu) • The river is my brother for it carries my canoe (Indigenous America) • Time is a river of passing events — a rushing torrent (Greece) • Follow the river and you will get to the sea (India) • Small brooks make big rivers (France) • No one tests the depth of a river with both feet (Ashanti) • As the wise man looks for a bridge the fool crosses the river (Iran) • Where the river is deepest it makes the least noise (Spain) • A great river does not refuse any small streams (Korea) • Do not push the river, it will flow by itself (Poland) • Once the last tree is cut and the last river poisoned, you will find you cannot eat your money (Canada) • “It is easy to throw something into the river but hard to get it out again” (India) Source: Slide 3
  4. 4. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” George Bernard Shaw Photo: M. McCarthy, Rossbeigh Beach, KerrySlide 4
  5. 5. The “numbers” game Slide 5
  6. 6. WFD – It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Photo: Kinvara marathon, rockandroad.ieSlide 6
  7. 7. Caha_020, Cork Part of Caha PAA High Ecological Status objective site • only at Good status since 2015 • At Risk Part of the Bandon River SAC • 2 types of habitat • 2 species (incl. FPM) Field assessment was undertaken in Spring-Summer 2019 on main channel and tributaries Impacts identified from to the WFD monitoring point at the outlet (Caha Bridge) Slide 7
  8. 8. Summary of local catchment assessment findings Nutrient impacts on main channel and tributaries (from agricultural pressures, with diffuse and point sources) Sediment impacts with bank erosion and cattle access on main channel Habitat impact due to hydromorphology pressure (channelization) Sediment impact from windfarm construction Tree felling – not significant Litter Invasive Species Slide 9
  9. 9. Field drains with stone backfill discharging to river Finding the Problems Slide 10
  10. 10. Land reclamation and intensification of agriculture Slide 11
  11. 11. New bog drains Slide 12
  12. 12. Hydromorphological impacts on stream habitat Slide 13
  13. 13. Nutrient and sediment issues along this tributary Sensitive taxa present in May but scarce or absent in August Sediment plume on kicking. High macrophyte cover in channel Stream has been straightened and possibly deepened and widened Slide 14
  14. 14. Peaty field reseeded right up to the stream Much of the peaty land that would be bog or wet grassland has been turned into permanent pasture and improved grassland Results in sediment in tributary streams and nutrient runoff Slide 15
  15. 15. Stream culverted and boulder embankment installed Riparian vegetation removed Slide 16
  16. 16. Cattle access and bank erosion Slide 17
  17. 17. Land reclamation Stream dug out Slide 18
  18. 18. Significant Pressures – point and diffuse sources Category Sub-category Impact Assessment Pressure & Impact details Agriculture Pasture Elevated ortho P, ammonia in water chemistry samples Nutrient pollution Agriculture Agriculture Elevated ortho P, nitrate and ammonia in water chemistry samples Nutrient pollution Agriculture Farmyards Pipe discharging to tributary stream from farmyard – sewage fungus evident Organic Pollution Agriculture Pasture Multiple cattle access points on main channel (including SAC) and tributary streams: evidence of bank erosion, sedimentation, poaching of bank Nutrient pollution Other significant impact (sediment) Hydromorphology Land Drainage Agricultural land 'reclamation' - channelisation of tributary streams - resectioning, overdeepening, embankment, removal of riparian vegetation. Altered habitat due to morphological changes Other Anthropogenic Pressures Windfarms Siltation from windfarm construction. Elevated suspended solids in drain immediately d/s of substation site. Other significant impact (sediment) Slide 19
  19. 19. Caha_020 Referrals • Referral 1 – cattle access points on main channel in SAC • Referral 2 – piped drain into tributary stream • Referral 3 – nutrient run-off • Referral 4 – channelisation of stream, land reclamation • Referral 5 – stream culvert, re-seeding of peat soils • Referral 6 – 10 cattle access points on tributaries • Referral 7 – hydromorphological impacts • Windfarm construction and associated development Slide 20
  20. 20. Referral – part 1 Slide 21
  21. 21. Referral – part 2 Slide 22
  22. 22. Referral – part 3 Slide 23
  23. 23. Referral – part 4 Slide 24
  24. 24. Are we there yet? Next steps - LAWPRO • Another two rounds of nutrient chemistry sampling to assess progress on existing pressures and identify other pressures • Work with CCC to monitor siltation levels in the stream that drains the windfarm development • Monitor sediment levels through the Caha project – establish baseline with advice from the national hymo and sediment WG Slide 25
  25. 25. Caha Project • Dairygold and Teagasc advisors have been working actively with the farmers in the catchment since mid- 2019, addressing the nutrient and sediment issues here. • Great buy-in from farmers here and 9 farmers located along the most impacted reaches are fully engaged with the process. • Champion farmers in the catchment helping to drive the project. • With Teagasc and Dairygold assistance and LAWPRO support, the Caha Project was set up under the umbrella of the Bandon Rivers Trust. • NPWS were consulted on the project. Slide 26
  26. 26. Bandon Rivers Trust Objective is to “conserve, protect, rehabilitate and improve the rivers, streams, watercourses and water impoundments of the catchment comprising the rivers of the River Bandon, County Cork, including adjacent estuarine and coastal area, for the advancement of environmental protection or improvement for the benefit of the public. This will be achieved by delivery of on the ground environmental projects, involving stakeholders and volunteers, that monitors the health of the river catchment, and addresses the causes of deterioration through direct investment in improvements and by encouraging behaviour change." Slide 27
  27. 27. • Successful application for €3.3k from Community Water Development Fund for first step targeted measures: –Targeted fencing –Water troughs –Nose pump • LAWPRO provided guidance re focus areas. • Planning to showcase the project for heritage week. –Inviting the public and landowners on to demo farm (with stream walk) to highlight what can be achieved through engagement. –(Covid) Plan B is to produce a video interviewing local farmers and stakeholders, talking about the importance of the Caha river in terms of water quality and biodiversity. Caha Project Slide 28
  28. 28. Solutions Use of LESS Technology Vegetated River Bank Managed Field Margin Good Buffer Zone Photo: Peter Comer, ASSAP advisor - MayoSlide 29
  29. 29. Good Buffer Zones Stream Photos: ASSAPSlide 30
  30. 30. Protection of Watercourse – Field Margins & Fencing Good hedgerow and managed field margin Photos: ASSAPSlide 31
  31. 31. River Crossings Bridge constructed in consultation with IFI prior to any work commencing Photo: ASSAPSlide 32
  32. 32. Excessive Management of Channels Education key for both landowners and contractors ASSAP working with farmers to encourage revegetating and minimal maintenance, cleaning only blocked sections Photo: ASSAPSlide 33
  33. 33. Policy Considerations • Land Use Planning – DHPLG preparing detailed planning guidance • Channel Maintenance – regulatory framework review – guidance and training • Cattle Access Points – funding for alternative drinking points? • Riverside Fencing and buffer strips – funding support? – buffer land eligible in PAA under BPS if approved by ASSAP advisor Slide 34
  34. 34. Slide 35
  35. 35. Conclusion Success in identifying problems and fixing them requires o shared ownership of purpose and vision o a focused, multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach o development of local solutions for local problems o time to build the relationships required to effect meaningful practice change o policy makers open to a change of approach o implementation of basic measures by stakeholders o collaboration on implementation of additional measures o equitable funding for some additional measures Slide 36
  36. 36. Thank You And thanks to the Caha Team: Jim Johnson, Ciara Donovan (Dairygold ASSAP), Lane Giles (Teagasc ASSAP), Maeve Ryan, Paul O’Callaghan, David Hegarty, Cork Co. Co. staff, Bandon River Trust, Kieran Murphy, Local farmers Slide 37