The Deel Spatially Targeted Buffers EIP Update March 2022

The Deel Spatially Targeted Buffers EIP is an initiative to improve water quality and biodiversity in the water body known as Deel_020 in North Cork (see map below for Cork catchment area) and Deel_050 in Limerick.  This EIP Project will road-test new ideas and practices which can then be used more widely by farmers and others to improve & enhance the local environment.

The project runs from September 2021 to December 2022 and will support farmers to increase the level of biodiversity on their farms while also improving water quality through a unique targeted approach to buffer zones and targeting biodiversity measures in ‘flow pathways’ to intercept the overland flow of nutrients before they reach the drain/stream and ultimately the main river channel.

Map: Project Area Deel_020 (North Cork)

An initial letter went out to farmers in the catchment to give an overview of the project and a farmer information clinic was held in Dromina Community Centre in Nov 2021. 

A number of rounds of water quality sampling have been carried out in the catchment looking at both stream biology & chemistry. Water quality is impacted in both streams. Chemistry samples taken in both October and December of 2021 are showing phosphate levels 2 to 3 times higher than they should be.  Phosphate is a particular nutrient of concern in this catchment and the project hopes to address the main overland flow pathways by using nature-based solutions such as wetlands and riparian planting.  Another nutrient of concern is ammonium, which is showing up as twice the recommended level. Sediment (sand/silt/clay particles) is also a problem here.  It deposits on the river bed and impacts on the river ecology, as well as carrying nutrients from the lands into the river. 

An auto sampler has been installed in the stream within the project catchment to measure baseline phosphate losses, particularly during storm events. This auto sampler also measures a range of other parameters such as conductivity and turbidity. Thanks to Finbarr and Liam of Water Technology Ltd for their expert input and also for the loan of their equipment for this work.


Image 1: Installing one of the autosamplers in Deel (NCW)_020 Source: Catherine Seale LAWPRO


Image 2: Auto-Samplers

Water samples from both Deel_050 & Deel_020 catchment areas were collected after some heavy rain over the first weekend of February 2022.  These will be analysed for orthophosphate to determine the impact of saturated soils and heavy rain on phosphate losses in both catchments.

A number of farms have been visited to try and identify suitable areas to install nature-based mitigation measures that will help to slow down the flow and attenuate nutrients before reaching the main channel of the River Deel. Pollutant Impact Potential (PIP) phosphorus maps from the Environmental Protection Agency are being used to help determine the most suitable location for these mitigation measures. 

Sedimentation is a big issue in the River Deel catchment.  As part of the Deel EIP project, soil samples were from the heaps of earth removed by the OPW from the main river channel to see if this soil has good levels of nutrients in it and potentially of financial benefit to the landowners.  Measurements of some of the heaps of earth were also taken to determine the volume of soil entering the river channel.


Image 3: Heaps of soil removed from the main channel of the River Deel circa 2018.

Image 4: Soil sampling & calculation of the volume of soil (January 2022).