We need to keep livestock away from our rivers

These are photos we took on a Natura 2000 river (Lower River Suir cSAC) during April 2015. It is incredible that this level of filamentous algae growth was apparent – in April, not to mind the siltation. This shows the impact of agriculture on our Natura 2000 rivers.

Cattle in rivers
This is a dairy farm where the cattle have full access to the river.
organic-pollution
We recorded extensive filamentous algae growth in the river immediately downstream of where the cattle were accessing the river. This was considered to be an excessive growth, and this was recorded in April.
Algae-growth-in-river
We recorded extensive filamentous algae growth in the river immediately downstream of where the cattle were accessing the river.
River siltation
Extensive siltation in the river 100m downstream of where the cattle were entering the river.

Under current regulations there is no exclusion zone for cattle from our rivers and streams and lakes. We need a 5m buffer zone (minimum) between our rivers and agriculture. Indeed, there have been calls for a 10m buffer to be provided. Cattle need to be kept away from our rivers and streams and provided with pumped water. It is clear that a river should never look like it does in the photos above – especially a Natura 2000 river in April.

For further reading please see the following document, which was prepared to encourage more sustainable farming practices in the Suir catchment:-

Furthermore, see this news report about a novel new method being introduced to address this problem, and it is clear that we need more initiatives like this in Ireland.

We are experts in water quality protection at both local and catchment levels so please contact us at info@ecofact.ie if you require any further information. Also, you can visit our main website at www.ecofact.ie.

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