• Congratulates local farmers for work on Water Quality
• Welcomes Irish Water decision to bring forward treatment plant
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett yesterday travelled to Duncannon to congratulate a number of farmers there on the impressive improvements they have achieved in tackling water quality in this beautiful part of County Wexford. Over two and a half years of the Department funded Duncannon Innovation Project, studies show bacterial counts in two streams which flow into the sea have fallen considerably while ecological assessments also show an increase in numbers of many pollution sensitive macroinvertebrate species
Highlighting that the project the farmers participated in was set up to contribute to the recovery and long-term retention of the Blue Flag status at Duncannon beach, Co Wexford, the Minister said,
“I am really proud of the contribution made by both the farmers and my department to improving the bacterial quality of the two coastal streams that flow onto the beach here. While sewage was a factor in Duncannon beach losing its Blue Flat in 2007, nutrients and sediments from agricultural use were issues too. So it is gratifying to visit and hear about both the improvement in water quality and the increase in species which have returned to it.”
The project, run in collaboration with Wexford County Council, was awarded €550,000 from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the Rural Development Programme, using the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) model.
Local farmers were provided with a full-time sustainability manager who helped with their Pollution Potential Zone (PPZ) plans and explained how sources of pollution could be dealt with. Various measures were implemented such as fencing watercourses, putting in arable grass margins alongside the streams, moving water troughs, planting extensive runs of native hedges, and implementing enhanced nutrient management planning for all farms. Success is evident as water quality has improved and many macroinvertebrate species have returned to the streams.
During her visit, Minister Hackett spoke to local farmers and the project team. She stated,
“It’s wonderful to see the sense of communal pride which builds up through projects like this, projects which allow farmers work with each other and with their communities. You can feel the sense of local ownership, responsibility and appreciation of the local water environment. That, and the positive relations which clearly exist between farmers and their community here, have surely helped this project be the success it is.”
Minister Hackett was also briefed on how the reduction in pollution from agricultural sources has highlighted other sources of bacterial contamination resulting in Irish Water accelerating planning for a municipal wastewater treatment system for the area to 2021.
“Bringing the start date of that plant forward is really good news for this very scenic area on the Barrow Estuary” Minister Hackett said
“I want to thank Irish Water for that and congratulate the Wexford County Council team for managing all the elements and bringing the project this far. I know it is not yet finished but the collaborative approach is showing great results and I am quite sure Duncannon can look forward to the restoration of its Blue Flag Status in the not too distant future.”
Meanwhile Tom Enright, Chief Executive of Wexford County Council added:
“We are delighted to work in partnership with the Department of Agriculture on this important environmental project. The success of the EIP programme to date is attributable to the collaborative approach that has been taken by the main stakeholders, working directly with farmers in the community for the good of both the local community and the greater environment. To date the project has helped to reduce the amount of bacterial contamination in the water in the area and we hope this collaborative approach continues into the future.”
This EIP Project is in line with the Department’s Action Plan 2021 which seeks to underpin the rural economy and optimise environmental sustainability.
Notes for Editor:
The European Innovation Partnerships Initiative (EIP) under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP) is a co-operation measure under Article 35(1) of the regulation. These locally led schemes promote local solutions to specific issues and involve the establishment of Operational Groups to develop ideas or take existing ideas/research and put them into practice by being hands on in terms of working towards the resolution of a practical problem. There are already 24 projects operating under the EIP Initiative.