DEAR SIR: I am a volunteer citizen scientist in the Kilkenny area involved in monitoring the water quality in the Nore river catchment.

The main area of interest for our small group of like-minded colleagues in Kilkenny is not only the river Nore but also its main tributaries of the Pococke and Bregagh.

There are others doing the same volunteer work right along the extents of the river which, of course, includes Tipperary where the river rises.

The overall initiative is part of a local Nore Vision Programme supported by LAWPRO, which aims to achieve good water quality in the river basin by 2027. All of these rivers are under extreme stress from many human activities, littering, drainage and, of course, agricultural activities.

In some cases, there is continual ingress to these rivers by livestock for drinking water.

The fencing is of poor quality or non-existent in many parts. Some of it has been purposely installed to permit cattle access. In Citizen Science, we use an index (CSI) based on the relative number of good and micro-invertebrates (freshwater bugs) that we find. Simply put, the good bugs like mayflies, stoneflies indicate good water quality and bad ones like leeches, snails indicate poor water quality.

The good bugs are part of the food chain for fish, mammals and birds.

There is abundant evidence that cattle ingress to these streams upsets the balance in favour the of bad guys.

Thus, we are finding that the overall CSI is indicating poor water quality. This is very much in line with recent EPA findings in respect of the Nore. These streams should be properly fenced and water troughs installed.

Many of the farms near me have access to public water. I understand that farmers pay water charges and the river water is free – but I am convinced that the overall damage done to the reputation of the farming industry by these small number of farmers is a lot more expensive.