Agriculture is among the priority areas on which feedback is being sought as part of a public consultation on significant water management issues in Ireland.
The consultation is one of the first steps in drafting Ireland’s next river basin management plan (RBMP) that will be launched in 2022.
Water quality is under the remit of the Department of Housing and the public have until 26 June 2020 to give their feedback at this first stage.
Agriculture is a significant pressure on water quality in Ireland, the consultation document says. It can be negatively affected by the presence of pesticide residues, nutrients from fertilisers or sediments from soil erosion.
Among the questions people are asked to consider are:
There are other relevant areas of the document for agriculture, including concerns over the pollution of waters by phosphorus and nitrogen. Agriculture, along with urban waste water, are two of the main sources of P and N in waterways.
The Department is seeking an answer to the following question on this topic: “Investing in urban waste water infrastructure and providing free agricultural advisory services are two targeted ways that the last RBMP aimed to reduce nutrient losses to surface waters. What other kinds of measures could be targeted and how?”
Abnormally high siltation levels are also a cause for concern. Identified sources of silt include poor agricultural practices - such as drainage, lack of buffers/catch crops on tillage, farm road ways and animal poaching - and soil erosion agricultural practices - such as reseeding.
The consultation asks if source control measures, such as catch crops for tillage and appropriate riparian margins, to prevent soil loss (silt and nutrients) from land and increase biodiversity be considered.
The full consultation and response form can be found here.