Did you know?
- Only 1% of all the water on earth is freshwater
- Sligo Rivers Trust was set up to help and support people who want to take care of their own rivers, lakes and coasts by looking at ways they can reduce pollution, increase biodiversity and help restore nature.
- There are already 21 different Rivers Trusts in Ireland.
- In the North West 80% of water bodies are of good or high status and there has been a 10% improvement in quality between 2013 and 2018
- Biological monitoring of rivers has been carried out in Ireland since 1971. Currently over 13,000 Kms of river are monitored for insects, aquatic plants, fish and algae
- 1400 sites are checked for oxygen levels and chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorus
- Better water quality improves biodiversity and this makes us more resilient to the effects of climate change
- The roots of trees drink the water in the soil – and extract nutrients from this, preventing them from entering the waterway
Why is this important?
- 30% of water bodies here are classed as “at risk” and most of these are rivers
- Maintaining our rivers well protects against flooding – something that is growingly problematic for many communities here as a result of climate change
- Planting trees and riverside vegetation alongside our river banks improve water quality by absorbing pollutants, add to the biodiversity of our rivers, slow down water and will strengthen river banks as they deal with larger volumes of waters
- Many rivers have been directed into narrow channels that make them liable to flooding. Community driven, nature based solutions are very effective for dealing with these. For example, in Inishowen, flooding has been reduced due to natural flood defences created by local communities there.
- Individual monitoring of waterways can make a huge difference when it comes to identifying problems with rivers such as invasive species, pollution or impacts of increased water flow in particular areas. The sooner that these are identified, the easier it will be to manage them.
- Climate change is predicted to cause increases in air temperature, heatwaves, dry periods/droughts and heavy rain. This will likely lead to decrease in available oxygen, loss of habitat, increased risk of invasive species and water borne diseases and food-webs being altered causing serious problems for all kinds of aquatic life
What can you do?
- Don’t drop litter – this invariably ends up in our waterways in the end
- See if there is a Rivers Trust in your local area and see if you can add your energy to the work they are undertaking
- Otherwise look for an opportunity to participate in community initiative around your own local river such as water sampling or education campaigns. The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), Tidy Towns groups or Teagasc are good places to start
- Don’t flush items such as dental floss, plasters or wipes down your toilet
- Use a sink strainer and wipe leftover grease from cooking utensils before you wash them
- See if there are opportunities to work with others around you on education and awareness campaigns, river trails or interpretation and signage to encourage people to think about their place in the ecosystem of their waterways
For more information:
Sligo Rivers Trust
email [email protected]
Local Authorities Waters Programme
Science and Stories from Ireland’s Waterways
Catchment Care Project: Resources for those looking to protect and improve water bodies