By Dan Walsh
Over 50 people from the across the government sectors as well as the National Federation of Group Water Schemes were in attendance at Duncannon Community Centre for the quarterly meeting of the South Eastern Regional Operational Committee on Water Quality recently.
Chaired by Director of Services, Fergus Galvin of Waterford City and County Council and supported by the Local Authority Waters Programme, the Southeast Regional Operational Committee is one of five committees which supports Ireland’s efforts to address the decline in water quality and protect public health and the valuable resource that clean water is for all.
Issues of concern discussed at the meeting included the protection of bathing and shellfish waters and public health along the Wexford coastline, agriculture across the counties and actions that Irish Water are undertaking to protect water quality.
Also attending the meeting were representatives of Southeast Technical University who outlined their work in collaboration with Wexford County Council and BIM.
Michael Goss of Úisce Eireann gave an overview of the significant upgrades being undertaken by Irish Water and the underground mapping of drainage networks in Wexford and across the region.
A key focus of the meeting was the Duncannon Blue Flag Farming Communities Scheme EIP which is a collaboration of farmers that is led by Wexford County Council and other bodies involved in the scheme include Teagasc, Geoff Barry Agricultural Consultants, Tirlán, Bord Bia and IFA that play a vital role in achieving the main objectives of the EIP.
Eoin Kinsella, Agricultural Scientist with Wexford County Council gave a presentation of the excellent work being undertaken by the project and the participant farmers to protect the water quality of Duncannon beach and its Blue Flag.
Cathal Somers, Agricultural Support and
Advisory Service advisor with Teagasc, gave a fascinating account on the benefits that multi-species swards can give when managed to suit the local farm situation. These include the requirement for much lower nitrate fertiliser application, better climate resilience of the crop, higher protein content, greater biodiversity and often a savings to the farmer.
The absence of a water treatment plant at Ramsgrange is still an issue and it was agreed that it would be advantageous to bring this into the Arthurstown wastewater treatment plant as soon as possible.
Agencies represented on the day included the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Uisce Éireann (Irish Water), Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), BIM, Inland Fisheries Ireland, National Federation of Group Water Schemes, Teagasc, EPA, and the County Councils of Wexford, Wicklow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford, Carlow, Kildare, Offaly and Laois.