Growing concern about the demise of water quality in South…
Local schoolchildren visit the River Bunowen in Galway
On Thursday, 14th of March over twenty pupils from Kilglass N.S., Ahascragh, Co. Galway and their teachers Anne Marie Bhaldraithe and Meghan Coyle visited their local River Bunowen at Cloughbrack estate to learn more about the fish and macroinvertebrates which live in the river.
The fieldtrip was led by Oisin Naughton from Inland Fisheries Ireland, and the event was organised by Clean Coasts officer Caitríona Cunningham with assistance from Galway County Council Community Water Officer Catherine Seale. Kilglass N.S. is working towards their Green-Schools water flag and as part of this programme the children learned about the Think Before You Flush campaign which is operated by An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme and is supported by Irish Water.
Clean Coasts Officer Caitríona taught the children the importance of only flushing toilet paper down the toilet. If items other than toilet paper such as sanitary products are flushed down the toilet, they can pollute river and marine environments as wastewater systems are not designed to deal with sanitary waste. A recent survey conducted by Clean Coasts found that 30% of adults flush items other than toilet paper down the toilet and most people flush these items down the toilet due to lack of knowledge of the consequences of doing so.
Oisin Naughton, Inland Fisheries Ireland, explained to the children that the River Bunowen is a tributary of the River Suck, and the river forms part of the Shannon catchment. The river supports good brown trout populations and a few years ago Inland Fisheries Ireland reintroduced the Atlantic salmon into the River Bunowen. The Irish salmon populations are declining mainly due to peoples’ activities including dredging and nutrient enrichment. Oisin conducted a kick sample in the River Bunowen to collect macroinvertebrates which indicate the river’s water quality. Oisin and the pupils from Kilglass N.S. identified freshwater shrimp, dragonfly, caddisfly and mayfly larvae indicative of good water quality. Oisin pointed out salmon redd beds and gravel river beds which are important river habitats for salmon and trout populations. Recently the Inland Fisheries Ireland constructed a rock ramp fish pass on the River Bunowen to address a major obstacle to fish passage particularly for migratory species such as salmon, trout, eel and brook lamprey, along the river section at Ahascragh village. After Oisin’s talk the pupils from Kilglass N.S. picked up litter along the River Bunowen. The children thoroughly enjoyed the River Bunowen field trip and they are determined to only flush toilet paper down the toilet to help keep the River Bunowen clean.
The children’s will also be celebrating World Water Day on 22 March. The children will walk to a local well with bottles of water to highlight the importance of freshwater and how people in some developing countries have to walk to wells to collect water. They have also highlighted the importance of this day using a notice board in their school.
World Water Day is an annual day organised by the United Nations that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s theme is ‘Leaving no one behind’.
For further information please contact Caitríona Cunningham, Clean Coasts Officer. Phone: 0872327383 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org