Cherish the river that crosses Roscrea
The Moneen/Mall/Bunow River originates at Monaicha Bog outside Roscrea, flows through the town and joins Little Brosna southwest of Roscrea and empties into the Shannon River.
Enthusiastic members of Roscrea Tidy Towns, passionate about this river and nature in general, invited Tom Bán and Sean O’Farrell to do a training workshop on river habitats.
The workshop took place at the Water Hole, Railway View, Roscrea on Wednesday July 27th. The event was promoted and supported by the Cabragh Wetlands Trust, Thurles and funded by North Tipp Development Company.
In the introduction to the workshop, speakers gave an overview of the importance of freshwater ecosystems in a global context, as 97% of the planet’s water is salt water, about 2% as glacial ice, so only about 1% is available to humans. , animals and plants that live on earth.
Like terrestrial ecosystems, river and aquatic ecosystems depend on the sun to provide energy to the system through the process of photosynthesis in plants. Algae and mosses on river stones are important food sources for organisms that browse on these plants.
These mini-beasts are then eaten by larger organisms, fish or birds such as dipper, kingfisher, etc. The river creatures provide an extremely important service by recycling all plant materials, leaves, twigs, and dead wood. Trees and bank vegetation are very important in providing shade to maintain the right temperature for river creatures and also allow them to hide from predators. The riparian vegetation and field margin also act as a very important buffer to prevent any potential pollution from reaching the river.
Rivers such as the Moneen/Bunow do not remain the same all the time but are constantly changing, due to heavy rains, strong currents, droughts, sediment carried downstream, water color change, possible runoff from farmland from animals, slurry or chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
Other industries including forestry, sewage treatment systems, septic systems, and private businesses and private homes can negatively impact the river. The EU Water Framework Directive (2000) set targets for Member States to achieve good water quality standards for all rivers, lakes and estuaries by 2015, but Member States failed so far and the new deadline is 2027.
In Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for testing and monitoring the water quality of rivers and lakes. They carry out biological (mini-animals/macroinvertebrates), chemical and hydromorphological studies of water bodies.
By assessing the biological status of water quality, they classify the river based on the presence or absence of different groups of organisms based on their varying sensitivities to pollution. Creatures can be very sensitive, or sensitive, tolerant, very tolerant, or very tolerant.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Tom and Sean visited the Bunow River on Thursday July 20, to observe the site in preparation for the main workshop on July 27. They were immediately touched by the smell of liquid flowing in the river on the side directly opposite the ‘waterhole’. ‘. This liquid had a creamy color and there was a foul smell.
“When we visited at 6.30pm on the evening of the aquatic habitat training workshop, we were again surprised, this time by the reddish color of the water. It looked like blood. This color dissipated after about 15 minutes to return to normal water color,” they said.
Sean and Tom took tiny “kick samples” and placed the macro-invertebrates in white trays for observation, identification and analysis. After identifying the mini-beasts, they grouped them together and counted them. They introduced participants to the life cycles and survival strategies of different organisms and each was integrated into the food web of the river. They discussed the sensitivities of different organisms to pollution and how this helps classify the water quality of the river.
The first impression from the first visit to the site was that the water quality could only be very poor due to the influx of a foul smelling cream colored liquid right in front of the water hole. This was not happening when Sean and Tom visited a week later, but there was a reddish color to the water that day which dissipated after 15 minutes. Their macro-invertebrate samples taken on July 27 are, according to them, indicative of Good Water Quality. Their chemical analysis showed no results outside of normal at the time of sampling.
It was a real boost for their mission to shine a light on the importance of river habitats to be hosted by 16 enthusiastic members of the Roscrea community. Our rivers, ponds and lakes need to have champions for these very important natural resources and ecosystems.
Sean and Tom would love to be invited to do a similar workshop for your community near a river near you. Please contact Sean on 087 9227957 or Tom on 087 9781465. These workshops are funded under the environmental theme of North Tipp Development Company.