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Farming for Water fund to improve water quality

I spent this morning on the banks of Lough Ennell, at the Westmeath farm of Róisín and David Fay, where myself, Minister for Agricultutre Charlie McConologue, and my Green Party colleague Minister Pippa Hackett launched our new €60m Farming for Water European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project. This scheme brings together the farming community, food industry and public bodies with the single aim of improving water quality across Ireland.

The Fay family farm was chosen because it’s provides a powerful example of what can be achiveved for water quality if a few simple measures are taken. On David and Róisín’s farm, they’ve installed a solar powered pump that draws water from the river that runs through their back field to tanks in the fields, and so now their cattle no longer drink water directly from the river. As a result of this there has been a significant decline of pathogens in the water, leading to better water quality, to the benefit of everyone who enjoys the lake for swimming and other activities. Róisín’s own mother has been part of a local ladies swimming club for many years, and can attest to how much the water quality has improved at the nearby Liliput bathing spot.

The future of our farms, and the families on those farms, are largely dependent on successful water quality outcomes, and these are the kinds of practical, collaborative measures that make a difference. The quality of our water is vital for the future of our farms as well as for nature, wildlife, public health and wellbeing. This €60 million fund will support up to 15,000 farmers like Róisín and David to take similar measures and deliver improvements to water quality nationally.

Our rivers, lakes, estuaries and bays are at the heart of what we value about Ireland’s environment, and working hand-in-hand, we will introduce more nature-based solutions to improve the quality of our rivers, lakes, estuaries and bays. We will also support community organisations to work on water quality measures in their local area. It is testament to the commitment of Government departments and the agricultural sector in taking ownership of their role in improving water quality.


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