Coastal streams in fo­cus at gather­ing

Wexford People - - NEWS - By DAVID TUCKER

CIT­I­ZEN sci­en­tists met re­cently to cel­e­brate Wa­ter Her­itage Day in Wex­ford Her­itage Park and to dis­cuss their new re­search find­ings into the South East’s coastal streams, all of which have a story to tell.

Mairéad Shore, from Wex­ford County Coun­cil said the project shines a light on streams which we have lit­tle or no in­for­ma­tion about.

‘Larger streams and rivers are mon­i­tored by our­selves or the EPA but of­ten the smaller streams are not mon­i­tored and so we have no idea what is go­ing on.’

Or­gan­ised by Coast­watch, Wex­ford County Coun­cil and the Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties Wa­ters and Com­mu­ni­ties Of­fice the event show­cased some of Wex­ford’s hid­den stream her­itage.

The project which is be­ing funded un­der the EU Fish­eries Lo­cal Ac­tion Group fund a fund that is ad­min­is­tered through BIM - is look­ing at the wa­ter qual­ity and habi­tat of coastal streams and record­ing for the first time their lo­cal his­tory.

Bren­dan Cooney, Se­nior Sci­en­tist with Wex­ford County Coun­cil said that like ev­ery other lo­cal author­ity in Ire­land, re­sources are spread very thinly and projects like this help pro­vide im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion and more im­por­tantly in­volve ci­ti­zens in the un­der­stand­ing and man­age­ment of their streams.

Dr Fran Igoe, who is orig­i­nally from Barn­town, spoke about how he grew up in the area and fished some of the small streams as a child and so he knows first­hand their im­por­tance to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

He en­cour­aged peo­ple to make sub­mis­sions to the draft River Basin Man­age­ment Plan and ex­plained how com­mu­ni­ties can work to­gether and with public agen­cies to re­store and con­serve their lo­cal rivers and utilise them for the ben­e­fit of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Siob­han Atkin­son, a PhD re­searcher at UCD, de­liv­ered a pre­sen­ta­tion on the Re­con­nect project which aims to use cit­i­zen sci­ence to log and mon­i­tor ob­sta­cles to fish mi­gra­tion along rivers in Ire­land.

Paddy Mor­ris, of the EPA, who orig­i­nally comes from Cross­abeg show­cased the work that the EPA are do­ing. He ex­plained de­tails of the new web­site Catch­ments.ie through which peo­ple can find out the wa­ter qual­ity of the rivers and lakes in Wex­ford and all across Ire­land, and data about what is caus­ing any prob­lems in them.

He also talked about the new Catch­ments News­let­ter which car­ries the sto­ries of rivers and peo­ple work­ing on them in Ire­land, which went down very well with the au­di­ence.

You can sign up to re­ceive the Catch­ments News­let­ter by en­ter­ing your email on www.catch­ments.ie and if you en­ter Wex­ford as your county, you will also get emails about fu­ture events like this.

De­spite all the pos­i­tive news, there is only so much that state agen­cies can do and so for the rivers that are not mon­i­tored, it goes back to ci­ti­zens tak­ing charge, rolling up their sleeves and get­ting into the stream and find­ing out what is go­ing on.

Karin Dub­sky, who is co­or­di­nat­ing the project on be­half of Coast­watch, ex­plained that the vol­un­teers were trained by river ex­perts to look at the aquatic in­ver­te­brates, such as mayflies and wa­ter snails to de­ter­mine the wa­ter qual­ity.

‘Some species in­di­cate clean wa­ter and other dirty or poor habi­tat con­di­tions. Even the lo­cal farm­ers have got in­volved and it is great to see such in­ter­est out there,’ she said.

Vol­un­teers pre­sented on a range of streams along the coast from the Slaney to Ban­now Bay with some in­ter­est­ing find­ings. A note­wor­thy out­come was the fact that ev­ery stream has a story and this is some­thing that came as a sur­prise to some.

As Dr Igoe put it ‘peo­ple take pride in their lo­cal streams, when they be­come aware of how unique they are and of­ten they re­mem­ber back to when they were kids look­ing to catch stick­le­backs or min­nows or just ap­pre­ci­at­ing that they have some­thing spe­cial flow­ing through their land or vil­lage’.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the project con­tact Coast­watch at KDub­sky@Coast­watch. org or the county coun­cil at en­vi­ron­ment@ wex­ford­coco.ie

In the Sulzer Pumps hos­pi­tal­ity tent at Wex­ford Races were Paul Browne, Eimear Car­roll, Es­ther Car­roll and David Car­roll.

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