Coastal streams in focus at gathering
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 first-hand 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 email@example.com