Meenbog peat slippage will have ‘significant impact on Source to Tap project’

The Meenbog landslide will have a “significant impact” on a project designed to pilot sustainable catchment management activities to improve raw water abstracted for drinking quality.

Source to Tap is a €4.9 million funded project which is led by NI Water in partnership with Irish Water, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), the East Border Region, Ulster University and The Rivers Trust, to trial sustainable catchment management solutions to improve raw water quality in the Derg and Erne catchments.

The project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA programme, match-funded by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, the Department for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) in Ireland, and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The Meenbog landslide, which occurred last weekend near the Meenbog Wind Farm, south of Ballybofey, Co. Donegal, will have a “significant impact” on the Source to Tap project which has been ongoing in the area since 2017.

Also Read: Meenbog Wind Farm peat slippage: ‘Who will clean up this mess?’

NI Water project manager, Source to Tap, Diane Foster, explains:

“This incident has caused tonnes and tonnes of sediment from a landslide to enter the rivers we have been working with local landowners and stakeholders to improve.

Any improvements in terms of reductions on colour and turbidity results from the installation of measures by farmers will be unlikely to be evident in the monitoring results due to the huge amounts of sediment from the landslide.

“The INTERREG partners and the local community, particularly local farmers, have all worked so hard on this project – it is devastating that their efforts won’t now be captured in the way we originally planned.

“However, it is vital to continue with the work we were doing, as the improvements to date were extremely positive and we were confident of some excellent results. We must remember that the project initiative will have benefits long into the future, and not just over the next few years.

“This environmental disaster is a timely reminder of how intertwined our systems are and how we must all act as guardians to protect our peatland and rivers.”

NI Water said it “moved quickly to reassure the public water quality has not been impacted”, as significant actions were taken by staff to protect the Derg Water Treatment Works at the time of the incident by utilising an alternative supply.