€3m EU water quality project to be led by Dundalk IT

1 Feb 2017

A water monitoring station on Lough Feeagh, which is maintained by the Marine Institute. Image: Marine Institute

Ireland’s impressive record in securing Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funding for scientific projects continues, as Dundalk IT is chosen to lead a new water quality programme.

With plans to train 12 researchers to investigate climatic events on lake and reservoir water quality, Dundalk IT (DkIT) is leading an international €3.1m project that will ultimately help to measure the effects of various storms.

A focus on lake physics, biogeochemistry, microbiology, algal biology and computer modelling will help to train the researchers, with funding for the programme coming from Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

“Extreme weather is now the ‘new normal’, not just for Irish and European weather, but globally,” said DkIT’s Dr Eleanor Jennings, coordinator of the programme.

“It is of critical importance that we actively scrutinise the effects of these episodic and extreme weather events, which, in some cases, can contribute to the contamination of our water supplies with harmful substances.”

Jennings hopes the project can develop “new insights and understanding” into extreme weather and how it affects water supplies.

Called ‘Management of Climatic Extreme Events in Lakes and Reservoirs for the Protection of Ecosystem Services’, it brings together facilities in Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.

Close up of device on Lough Feeagh. Image: Marine Institute

Close-up of device on Lough Feeagh. Image: Marine Institute

DkIT’s centre for freshwater and environmental studies will partner with the Marine Institute, using automatic monitoring stations on various loughs to attain relevant data.

The other European bodies involved are Catalan Institute for Water Research, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, University of Barcelona, University of Geneva and Uppsala University.

The researchers in this programme will spend time at certain partner institutes throughout Europe.

Last year, an Irish-led international research project that aims to use solar power to disinfect water, WaterSPOUTT, was awarded €3.6m by the EU to expand into impoverished nations.

In December, it emerged that the EU’s €75bn scientific funding initiative, Horizon 2020, saw Ireland secure more than €336m since it began – a rate of €2.4m per week.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, at that time, saw the country secure €59.7m in funding.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic