April 26 – May 30, 2024 ENVIRONMENT : Making a difference ‘Save Murragh Action Group’ committed to protecting the Bandon River

undertaking various catchment area projects to determine their health status. LAWPRO (Local Authority Waters Programme) is responsible for coordinating and implementing the RBMP Plan 2022-2027. Unfortunately the draft report from the WFD third cycle, makes uncomfortable reading for the Bandon/Ilen catchment area. There are 128 waterbodies included; 27 do not reach WFD “good” status and are designat- ed ‘At Risk’, 34 are either not assessed or further work needs to be done to achieve “good” status” and are designated Review; and just 67 achieve “good or high status” – desig- nated ‘Not at Risk’. In summary 47 per cent, nearly half of the waterbodies supplying the Ban- don and Ilen rivers do not meet “good ecological status”. The Environmental Protec- tion Agency (EPA) are respon- sible for assessing water quality in Ireland under the National River Monitoring Programme. Several organisations such as the OPW, Inland Waterways, ESB, inland Fisheries and others are involved in feeding data back to the EPA as part of the National Hydrometric programme 2022-2027. River health status is moni- tored under three broad catego- ries however, assessments are primarily focused on main river bodies and do not necessari- ly include all tributaries and

streams. It is impossible for the EPA to assess all streams and tributaries leading into rivers and it is for this reason that Citizen Science Stream Index (CSSI) was de- veloped by Dr Simon Harrison from UCC. The CSSI project involves collecting samples of the invertebrates living under stones in our streams and eval- uating them for the presence of three “pollution sensitive” and three “pollution tolerant” invertebrate species. The relative presence and absence of these species can predict the ecological health status of a stream categorising them as “clean”, “moderately polluted” or “heavily polluted”. There is scant CSSI data available for the Bandon river and we assume an endless supply of clean fresh drink- ing water at our peril. As our population expands so does our demand and indeed our right to clean drinking water. Individ- ually we must take ownership of protecting our fresh water supplies which can be seriously threatened by the water abstrac- tion for industry and the chem- icals and pollutants discharged into fresh water by industry. Follow the ‘Save Murragh Ac- tion Group’ on social media murragh-stop-the-mega-quarry

March 22 was ‘World Water Day’, an annual United Nations observance day that highlights the importance of fresh water and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. How often do we take fresh water for granted and happily spend time at the Bandon river to swim, fish, enjoy wildlife and restore. The Bandon River must be one of the few rivers that remains in a reasonably untampered state without dams and canals. Save Murragh Action Group is a community group strongly opposed to the development of an 80 acre mega-quarry adjacent to the river Bandon and the Bengour West stream, and is committed to protecting the heart of the Bandon river valley.

to an EU citizens campaign ‘Right-2-Water’. The DWD is concerned with ensuring that all citizens have access to clean drinking water that is free of pollutants (chemicals, biologicals and physical) and particularly emerging pollut- ants such as microplastics, endocrine (hormone) disruptors and PFAs (polyfluoroalkyl substances). In January 2024, the European Court of Justice ruled that Ireland failed to pro- tect drinking water from toxic chemicals mostly coming from private group schemes. The EU Water Framework Directive (2000) (WFD) requires that all EU member states reach “good” status in all river and ground water bodies by 2027. A component of this is the establishment of a River Ba- sin Management Plan (RBMP), which Ireland has implemented and is now in its third cycle. The plan involves protect- ing and restoring rivers “at risk” and “under review” and

T he potential effects of river contamination, silting, dewatering and ground contamination through long term quarrying at this site are unknown. We do know that more than eight billion litres is abstracted every year from the Bandon river for fresh drinking water. Can we really take a con- tinued supply of fresh drinking water for granted? The river Bandon rises in the Maughanaclea hills, about 10km north of Dunmanway, and has vast catchment area of nearly 600km2, it travels east for 73kms to Kinsale. On its course it passes through several

villages and towns including Dunmanway, Ballineen, Enni- skeane, Bandon, Innishannon and joins the estuary at Kinsale. Almost nine million cubic meters (nine billion litres or 3,500 Olympic swimming pools) of water are abstracted from the river Bandon or it’s associated ground water every year, the vast majority of which is directed to public drinking water schemes in Clonakilty, Bandon, Innishannon, Kin- sale and many smaller towns. Several big industries including food manufacture/processing and quarrying/stone processing situated along the course of the

Bandon, rely on water abstrac- tion from the river and some discharge recycled water back into the river. Whenever we turn our taps on for a glass of water, we take for granted that we have clean drinking water. However, the Rivers Trust reported that 50 per cent of Irish rivers are “be- low good ecological standard”, and ecology only thrives in healthy unpolluted water. It is considered a fundamen- tal human right to have access to clean drinking water. The EU Drinking Water Directive (DWD) was incorporated into Irish law in 2023 in response

Bantry Spanish exchange student scoops EirGrid Climate Award at SciFest regional finals Mar Doblado Fernandez

Hundreds of students from across Cork came together with their second-level student peers to compete in the STEM fair showcasing projects on a range of topics from mathematics to renewable energy. Mar, a Spanish exchange

student at Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, impressed judges at the MTU fair thanks to her project – ‘The effects of imported plants in the Irish environment’. SciFest@College is a programme of STEM fairs

for second-level students, taking place in 16 regional colleges across Ireland. The SciFest programme is open to second-level students, with the aim of promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) education

and providing a platform for students to present and display their scientific projects. As a result of her successful project and award, Mar will go on to compete in the SciFest National Final which takes place later this year.

from Coláiste Pobail Bhean- ntraí in Bantry took home the prestigious EirGrid Cleaner Climate Award following her impressive scientific insights presented at the SciFest@MTU 2024 regional competition.

Free IWDG guided whale watch evening at Galley Head

A s part of Whale Watch Ireland 2024, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is inviting members of the public to join them at the Galley Head lighthouse on Saturday, May 18, for an evening of free and guided whale watching. Taking place between 5 and 7pm, the annual event, now in its 22nd year, is suitable for all ages and is aimed at anyone with a keen interest in marine wildlife and biological recording.

This year’s event is being held earlier than usual to coin- cide with National Biodiversity Week Ireland, which runs from May 17-26. Whale Watch Ireland takes place at 11 sites around the Irish coast, providing IWDG researchers, whale enthusiasts and citizen scientists alike with a unique overview of whale and dolphin activity on the day and allowing participant to play an important part. While there are of course no

guarantees of sightings, given reasonable weather there is a good chance of seeing some species. Participants are advised to dress appropriately for the weather conditions on the day. Please note, there are no boats involved and no bookings necessary. There will be a short, five to ten minute walk from the car parking area to the meeting point at the light- house, so sensible footwear is recommended. Also advised are

binoculars, a sense of humour and refreshments. Please leave your pets at home. In the event of unsuitable weather, the event may have to be cancelled at short notice, so if unsure please check in with IWDG Sightings Officer, Pádraig Whooley. Pádraig can also be contacted with any questions in the lead up to your event. Pádraig Whooley, IWDG Sightings Officer, Phone: 086 3850568, e:

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