Catchment News

Source to Tap project in the Erne and Derg catchments launched

Lisa Stewart tells us about a major €5.3 million cross-border project to improve water quality in rivers and lakes in the Erne and Derg catchment areas, which provide drinking water for parts of Fermanagh, Tyrone, Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Longford.

Source to Tap is a cross-border partnership project that will focus on the River Erne and the River Derg catchments, which are part of our shared drinking water sources. The Derg and Erne drinking water catchments are predominantly rural in nature. The main land uses are forestry, farming and peatland. Certain types of land use management can cause materials such as sediments and herbicides to run off the land and drain into the raw water, the same raw water which Northern Ireland (NI) Water abstracts for drinking water.

These materials must be removed in Water Treatment Works (WTWs) to produce drinking water that meets strict drinking water quality standards. High concentrations of herbicides and variations in colour and turbidity causes increased capital and operational costs to treat and remove these materials. Therefore, it is more cost effective for us to identify these pressures at source and keep our rivers and lakes clean.

Exploring innovative solutions and improving land use management practice

The Project will explore innovative solutions to improving land use management practice that will reduce impacts on raw water quality. The project will put community and stakeholder engagement at the heart of the project and will work with farmers, land managers, forestry providers, and the wider community to help identify and share best practice approaches to protecting drinking water sources.

The partners will work together to deliver work packages aimed at Learning and Outreach, Best Practice Forestry pilot projects, a Peat Restoration pilot project and a cross-border pilot Land Incentive Scheme (LIS) in the Derg catchment.

Monitoring and evaluation

Each of these activities will be monitored and the results evaluated to establish the cost effectiveness of the measures. Best practice from each of these work packages will enable us to produce a Sustainable Catchment Area Management Plan (SCAMP), so that these ideas and practices can be replicated in other drinking water source areas in the United Kingdom, Ireland and beyond.

Funding and project partners

NI Water secured the funding from the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, and the Department for Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) in Ireland. The funding is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and will run from 2017 to 2021.

NI Water will lead a partnership, which includes Irish Water, The Rivers Trust, Ulster University, Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute (AFBI) and East Border Region. Together the partners will work together to test pilots for how to protect raw water quality at source across both jurisdictions.

Lisa Stewart, Source to Tap Project Officer

Twitter: @SourcetoTapEU

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,842 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures to protect and restore our waters.