To celebrate Science Week 2020 Irish Water, the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) and a range of organisations working together to tackle the issue of pesticide exceedances in the Newport catchment area are launching a novel community based project. Already piloted in parts of Roscommon, the project which encourages families to stop using pesticides in their gardens and around their homes, is going to be rolled out in Newport early next year.

‘I’ve planted a tree and my garden is pesticide free’ is a fun and engaging programme for national school children and their families to get involved in. The initiative will see every primary school child in the Newport catchment receive a native Irish woodland tree to plant. The aim is to open up a discussion about the importance of water source protection while helping people understand how they can enhance the biodiversity around their own homes while also contributing to climate action. Participants will also receive a certificate and a wheelie bin sticker that they can proudly display to show their commitment to going pesticide free.

As well as the planting a tree campaign, there will be a number of bee hives delivered to the local community for upkeep.

The campaign has been welcomed by Newport Tidy Towns. According to Annette Hanley: “Newport is a beautiful heritage town located on the picturesque Great Western Green and on the shores of stunning Clew Bay. It is imperative we do what we can to protect our natural environment. We have a beautiful river that runs through the town and which meets the Atlantic Ocean and we all have a part to play in keeping our waterways clean and free from pollution.

Sean Corrigan, National Federation of Group Water Schemes, is leading the project in Newport with financial and operational support from Irish Water and LAWPRO and he is hugely encouraged by the enthusiasm the project received in Roscommon. “I have no doubt that this fun and educational project will be warmly welcomed in Newport. It is aimed at school children, their parents and siblings and the wider community. So much of what we do around our own homes has a wider impact on climate change, biodiversity, and the water sources where we abstract water for drinking, and this project will help the community to link all the pieces together.

LAWPRO supports local communities who wish to get involved in the care of their local rivers and waterbodies. Tom Carolan, the community water officer with LAWPRO added: “The initiative is a great way to raise the awareness of the need for us all to become more conscious of how we can protect our local rivers and lakes.

The project team will be looking for three volunteer groups as well as farmers and individuals to take up the honour of keeping their own bee hives in the catchment area. Details of how you can become involved will be announced later this month.

Irish Water’s Compliance Specialist Dr Pat O’Sullivan explains why the initiative is necessary in Newport: “Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is Irish Water’s first priority. The Newport Public Water Supply which sources its water from the Newport River, is currently on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Remedial Action List due to persistent exceedances of the pesticides MCPA and Glyphosate. This campaign will give us an opportunity to broaden the conversation and get involved in a fun initiative that will have far reaching benefits.

The team has also been working closely with Mayo County Council and Teagasc on the project. Mary Roache, Teagasc Advisor, who has been working closely with the farming community commented: “Pesticides in our drinking water is something none of us want. We are working closely with the farming community to help educate farmers, but this is not just a farming issue. Pesticides are found in many products sold to look after people’s gardens and we all have a role to play. By helping nature, by helping the bees we will also help to protect our water supplies.

The initiative will be officially launched on Thursday, November 12 during Science Week 2020 on the Tommy Marren Show on MidWest Radio. Tune in for more details.

Mayo

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