Blue DropletThe Project

Source to Tap is an innovative and exciting, cross-border partnership project. It focuses on the River Erne and the River Derg catchments which cross the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. It aims to develop sustainable, catchment-scale solutions for the protection of rivers and lakes, which are the main sources of our shared drinking water.

Source to Tap will deliver a learning and outreach programme. This will be targeted at informing and empowering the public about their role in protecting our clean and healthy freshwater environment. Source to Tap will pilot best-practice forestry and peatland land management measures. It will deliver an Agricultural Land Incentive Scheme focused on changing land management practices for the protection of our water.

These best practice measures will be bought together to form a Sustainable Catchment Area Management Plan (known as a SCAMP), so what is learned, and what is successful, can be replicated in other drinking water catchments in Ireland, the UK and beyond.

The project runs from 2017 to 2021. It is funded by 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. It is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Why the Erne and Derg River Catchments?

The River Erne catchment (covering 4374km2) and River Derg catchment (covering 369km2) are significant cross-border source areas for shared public drinking water supply between Ireland and Northern Ireland.  They have been chosen because risks to these drinking water sources have been identified in both countries.

The risks identified arise because ‘raw water’ abstracted from watercourses (rivers, lakes and streams) often contains contaminants such as herbicides, organic colour and sediments. These can enter the water source from various activities, such as agriculture, forestry and industry.

These contaminants must be removed in Water Treatment Works/Plants (WTWs/WTPs) to produce drinking water that meets the standards set out in the EU Drinking Water Regulations.

It has been shown in the United Kingdom that it is more cost effective to reduce contaminants in run-off from the land through catchment-scale land management rather than building costly treatment solutions at the Water Treatment Plant.

There are added benefits to preventing water quality impacts at source, including improving water quality throughout the river system for wildlife and for recreation provision, bringing not just environmental, but also social and economic benefits.

What will the project do?

Source to Tap will promote knowledge of our shared catchments and the value of a clean freshwater environment through:

Learning for Water

What? Working with schools and the local community to highlight the important connection between our rivers and lakes and what comes out of the tap.

How? School education programme aimed at upper Primary and lower Secondary children; development of a School Activity Booklet, Road Shows, Seminars, Information Exchange Events, attending agricultural shows and community fayres

Why? To educate people of the important connection between our rivers and lakes and what comes out of the tap.

Farming for Water

What? Helping our farmers to adopt sustainable land management practices that help reduce herbicide residue and soil escaping from the land into rivers, through the implementation of a cross-border Land Incentive Scheme (LIS).

How? Trialling a cross-border pilot Land Incentive Scheme (LIS) in the River Derg catchment, providing incentives to land owners and farmers to deliver more sustainable land management.

Why? To reduce erosion, sediment run-off and pollution from herbicides, helping to protect raw water quality and contribute to improved WFD status. 

Forests for Water

What? Trialling various mitigation measures to reduce soil erosion and sediment run-off to our rivers and lakes from forestry activity.

How? Through the construction of settlement ponds/sediment traps of different sizes and filtering of the runoff from the forestry operation sites through various media – e.g. straw bales.

Why? To reduce forestry impacts where there is a risk to raw water quality.

Peatlands for Water

What? Restoring an area of previously forested peatland to improve the health of the bog and reduce soil run-off to rivers and lakes.

How? Restoration of 135ha of previously afforested peat bog areas adjacent to watercourses on Forest Service NI land to provide peat dams preventing sediment run-off into rivers in the Erne and Derg Catchments.

Why? To improve habitats and water quality through reduced erosion and sediment run–off, which will contribute to improved WFD status.

Love your Water

What? Citizen science and volunteering opportunities that encourages people to get involved in protecting and improving our rivers and lakes, that are the sources of our drinking water and home to our precious wildlife.

How? Providing training to the community to upskill them in water quality monitoring and improvement, including the establishment of a community-led volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Initiative.

Why? To engage and upskill local people in the protection of their own freshwater environment and creating a lasting legacy in the project area.

Meet the Team

Lisa Stewart

Project Officer

Lisa Stewart

Project Officer

I am one of the Project Officers working on the project. I have experience in community engagement, environmental planning, conservation and sustainable development and hold a Masters degree in European Planning from Queens University Belfast.

Lyndsey Herron

Project Officer

Lyndsey Herron

Project Officer

I am one of the Project Officers working on the project. My background is in conservation, environmental education and community engagement. I am a PhD graduate of Queen’s University Belfast where I researched conservation grazing on sand dunes.

Patrick Gallagher

Project Officer

Patrick Gallagher

Project Officer

I am one of the Project Officers working on the project. My background is in monitoring of river, lake and bathing water quality and working to protect the freshwater environment.

Phoebe Morton

Catchment Scientist

Phoebe Morton

Catchment Scientist

I am the Catchment Scientist working on the project. I will be monitoring different aspects of hydrology and water quality to measure the impact the project is having. I have a degree in Biology and a PhD in Environmental Science.

Diane Foster

Project Manager

Diane Foster

Project Manager

I am the Project Manager for the Source to Tap project. I have previously been involved in setting up another cross-border water management project. I have many years’ experience in catchment management, research management and partnership working.

Karen Atchison

Finance & Admin Manager

Karen Atchison

Finance & Admin Manager

My role in Source to Tap is to keep the project within budget as well as providing administrative support. I am a qualified accountant and I hold a degree in Environmental Conservation.

Mark Horton

Project Officers' Support

Mark Horton

Project Officers' Support

I am supporting the work of the project officers by overseeing the learning and outreach and public engagement side of the project, as well as the delivery of the Land Incentive Scheme.

Who's Involved

Northern Ireland Water

We are a Government Owned Company, set up to provide the water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland. We supply around 840,000 customers with approximately 560 million litres of good quality drinking water every day.

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Irish Water

We are the national water utility in Ireland with responsibility for all public water and wastewater services, including maintenance and management of the water networks and the delivery of water and wastewater capital investment programmes.

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Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute

We carry out high technology research and development, statutory, analytical & diagnostic testing and consultancy work for Government and commercial companies globally.

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East Border Region

We are a Local Authority-led cross-border network that promotes innovative, cross-border economic development in agriculture, Industry, commerce and tourism to improve the living conditions and employment prospects of those living in the region.

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Ulster University

We have an international reputation for excellence and innovation, making a major contribution to Northern Ireland's economic, social and cultural development through teaching & learning, widening access to education, research & innovation and technology & knowledge transfer.

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The Rivers Trust

We are the umbrella body for the rivers trust movement in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland. We work locally, with rivers trusts, to restore and protect rivers for the benefit of the community and environment.

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