The Loughs Agency today announced it will receive £500,000 of funding from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to carry out remedial works during 2018 on four river catchments affected by the flooding in August 2017.
The work will include redirecting watercourses back to the main river systems, erection of riparian fencing and buffer strips along the affected rivers, management of overhanging trees and revetment works.
Sharon McMahon, Designated Officer at Loughs Agency said: “The overall aim of this project is to repair and maintain the affected rivers mainly for fishery management purposes but it will also provide a positive effect on the economic, social and environmental area of the Foyle catchment. These works will stabilise river banks and reduce erosion and downstream deposition, ensuring that spawning and invertebrate habitats are safeguarded for the future.’
DAERA Permanent Secretary Denis McMahon said: “Departmental staff are continuing to provide practical assistance to farmers affected by the flooding in August 2017. This funding of £500,000 to enable Loughs Agency to carry out remedial works in the Glenelly and Owenkillew Valleys will also support the farming community impacted by the flooding.
“The benefits arising from these remedial works will contribute to the ecology and water quality of the watercourses affected, and will also assist farmers affected by the flooding, including through fencing for stock control, reduction of unwanted sediment deposition, and prevention of further bankside erosion and resultant loss of grazing.”
Loughs Agency, which has a statutory obligation for fisheries management in the Foyle area, has been an active participant, alongside DAERA, in the government response to the flooding and has worked closely with DfI Rivers, the emergency services, councils and other key organisations to gather information on the situation and provide support to those who have been affected.
The Agency has undertaken an initial survey on the rivers and associated land within the Foyle area. This survey identified that the key rivers affected by the flooding were the Rivers Glenelly, Owenkillew, Faughan and Burndenett and therefore the project will focus on these rivers and surrounding areas.
It has projected that 60kms of fencing is required. Fencing is recognised as the first stage in improving fisheries and this work will be prioritised. The installation of fencing and buffer strips will promote improved habitat for fish and other species through improved water quality and reduced input of faecal nutrients and sediments. Fencing will also improve bank stability by preventing slumping and erosion.
During the floods, the volume and force of water caused river courses to divert over farm land. Loughs Agency will work to reinstate watercourses to their original path. The Agency has projected that it will require 5,000 tonnes of rock armour to undertake revetment works. These works will stabilise the banks, reduce erosion and reduce damage during future floods by absorbing the energy of incoming water.
Loughs Agency recognise that bankside trees are vital for good fisheries. Their branches and leaves provide cover and shade, whilst their root systems protect fish from predators and the banks from erosion. They are also a source of energy for rivers via leaf and invertebrate fall into the water, and play a significant part in how water flows within the catchment. Works will ensure careful management of trees, promote valuable plant growth, reduce debris in rivers and address health and safety issues along the affected rivers.