The European Union has injected almost £3 to help improve water quality on Lough Foyle as well as Carlingford Lough. The funding offer was confirmed this week as part of a cross-border project encompassing both loughs.
The Special European Union Programmes Body have made the offer of the funding from within the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme.
The project is called SWELL (Shared Waters Enhancement and Loughs Legacy) and involves a detailed investigation into the causes of water pollution on both sides of the border.
For the first time, it will bring together key state-owned water companies and will be delivered by both NI Water and Irish Water, in partnership with the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute, the Loughs Agency and East Border Region Ltd.
The funding award also has the potential to unlock up to an additional €32 million worth of support from the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme to improve wastewater treatment assets that will benefit 10,000 people on a cross-border basis.
The additional funding available to the project will be used in the upgrade and construction of wastewater treatment facilities within the Lough Foyle drainage basin. Once finished, the project will contribute towards improving regional compliance with the EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) in respect of transitional and coastal waters found in Lough Foyle and driving a common approach to the management of water resources.
The project will also leave a unique ‘legacy’ model, which for the first time will link various aspects of environmental modelling to assist the regulatory bodies on both sides of the border by identifying approaches to achieving further improvement of overall water quality.
Announcing the funding Gina McIntyre, CEO of the SEUPB, said: “Environmental issues do not recognise nor respect international boundaries. Therefore it is essential that they are tackled on a cross-border basis.
“By treating each Lough catchment as a single ecosystem, which is impacted by polluters on both sides of the border, this project is truly collaborative in nature. As such it will create a model of co-operation that can be used as a foundation for any future improvement projects for our shared waters,” she continued.
Match-funding has been provided by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government in Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.