River Water Quality Improvements Following A Farm Project in Cork

river water quality

River Water Quality Improvements Following A Farm Project in Cork

The most recent State of Our Waters report shows that poor river water quality is an issue in Ireland. But how do we tackle this issue? A farm project in Cork provides a great example of how active measures can drive big improvements in water quality. 


The €1.47million European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Project

A 5-year project was completed in North-West Cork at the start of 2024. The Duhallow Farming for Blue Dot Catchments EIP project aimed to recruit ~100 landowners in an attempt to fight water pollution. The main focus areas were tributaries that fed into the Blackwater River. By offering results-based payments, farmers were given an incentive to join the project. Additionally, farms could apply for direct funding to implement specific measures to reduce pollution. 


Active Measures Taken in The Project to Improve River Water Quality

The project covered 19 km of waterways in the catchment area across Cork. Improvement measures included farm road upgrades and hedgerow/tree planting. Planting vegetation is a great way of intercepting nutrients before they reach rivers, which is of great benefit to water quality. During the project, landowners planted over 1,300 trees. Much of the work also tried to prevent farm animals from accessing the river. Animal entry can pollute rivers and destroy riverbanks, leading to increased flooding while harming local flora and fauna. As a result, measures to prevent animals from drinking directly from the river by using alternative drinking sources (e.g. solar water pumps) were encouraged. 


Results of The Project 

Before the project, 57% of the catchment area had a ‘good’ water framework directive (WFD) status. As a result of the project, 81% of the catchment area’s rivers are now achieving at least ‘good’ WFD status. The project has improved river water quality, providing a lifeline to endangered species, like the freshwater pearl mussel. According to a scientist, Michael O’Connor, the project is “a blueprint of how to farm with nature to protect water quality.” 

FreshWater Pearl Mussel

The critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel


Conclusion for Improving Ireland’s River Water Quality

Recent findings suggest that over 60% of Irish rivers are below good biological health standards. This issue must be addressed. The EIP farming project in Cork is a major success story, showing that small corrective measures can significantly improve river water quality. Southern Scientific’s water monitoring services can help in the fight against river pollution by detecting and addressing water quality concerns. 


To discuss our water testing services, contact our team of experts today!

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