Minister announces £200,000 Water Quality Improvement initiative

Date published: 09 June 2021

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced a £200,000 Water Quality Improvement strand (WQIS) of the Environmental Challenge Fund Competition for 2021/2022, to support water quality projects across Northern Ireland.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA is pictured (L-R) with Dave Scott - Woodland Trust, Lionel Knobbs - Loughs Agency and Alan McComb Landowner on his Londonderry farm.

The Minister made his announcement during a visit to a farm in the Faughan Valley, which received almost £7,000 under the 2020/21 Scheme to assist with the creation of wet woodland at the farm, in a partnership with Woodland Trust and Loughs Agency. Under the WTNI Faughan Valley volunteer programme, local people helped plant the trees and will undertake monitoring of the project, as well as helping to maintain the site as it develops and grows.

This project showcases how a nature-based solution can help protect rivers from potential pollution, as well as keeping water on the farm in times of drought and providing a future timber resource in the form of native trees for other landowners and farmers.

The 2021/22 strand of the fund is aimed at local communities and voluntary organisations to run small projects to bring about improvements in their local water environment.

Welcoming the launch of this year’s scheme, Minister Poots said, “Due to the success of last year’s Water Quality Improvement strand of the Environmental Challenge Fund Competition, I am pleased to announce a further £200,000 of funding in this financial year. It has been inspiring to see the accomplishments achieved by recipients of the grant in 2020. The project here in the Faughan valley is an excellent example of the type of work the Department is supporting to tackle some of the big issues facing us such as climate change mitigation, water quality protection and biodiversity loss.

“I wholeheartedly support this type of partnership working with environmental organisations and I wish to acknowledge the significant contribution that partnering with the Department can make to our aquatic environment.  I look forward to visiting other projects in the future to see the benefits of this collaboration.”

The closing date for applications for the 2021/22 Water Quality Improvement Strand of the Environmental Challenge Fund Competition is 28th June 2021

Further information, including guidance notes and details of how you can apply for funding, can be found on the DAERA website at

Notes to editors: 


  1. The Environmental Challenge Fund is available to not-for-profit organisations and Councils to deliver on water quality priorities across Northern Ireland. Grants are available between £5,000 and £30,000 through the competition to cover up to 75% of eligible project costs.
  2. The three key themes for funding under this Challenge Competition are:
  • Conservation and restoration of our aquatic environments
  • Nature-based solutions, particularly for climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Connecting people with the aquatic environment
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