As the water quality Waterpro project comes to the end of its second year of collaborative working, representatives from Lough Neagh Partnership joined other partners form Northern Europe at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh to reflect on the impact of the project to date and to plan ahead for year three.
Gerry Darby of Lough Neagh Partnership attended and reported that The Waterpro Project continues to make good progress with Heriot Watt University coordinating work and agreeing that a new toolkit comprising new good practice information cards which will now be drawn up by each partner. Savonia University in Finland is taking the lead in developing new templates for the cards. The toolkit aims to provide a good practice information card to the farming community to provide good advice on how to manage nitrate and phosphate run off into our water systems.
The importance of the evaluation of climate change effects in each of the partner countries was also discussed during the partner conference in Edinburgh, with the agreement that each partner should research and develop a short summary of the potential effects of climate change on nutrient run off in their own area. Again, this practical advice will be feed back to the farming stakeholder community and the Lough Neagh Partnership will undertake to develop write up a small paper on the effects of climate change on the Lough and in particular its effect in the Loughs nitrate and phosphate levels.
Gerry reported that partners at Savonia University will also design a web-based selection tool, which will help stakeholders select suitable good practices based on their own nitrate run off circumstances. The toolbox will be produced by February 2019.
Commenting about the value of attending the conference, Gerry said: “Whilst we are all continuing our day to day work the Waterpro project in our own areas, coming together at these round table discussions and conferences are invaluable for partners of the Waterpro project in order to build on the impact that the project has had in the past two years and to proactively plan ahead for the next phase with a joined up approach. The face to face international interaction provides an opportunity to discuss unique partner experiences that conference calls and emails just don’t permit.”
In closing, partners attending the conference updated each other on their pilot projects and Gerry advised that progress on all sites is proceeding well with all site information being fed into the new good practice toolkit and website. Arrangements for a major water quality conference to be held on the shores of Lough Neagh in the Autumn were also agreed.