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What does peatlands rewetting have to do with water quality?

Rewetting peatlands is an important management technique to improve water quality, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve carbon sequestration and promote biodiversity.

Draining peatlands degrades the quality of nearby surface waters. Overall, studies have shown long-term decreases in inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus, base cations, suspended solids and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) arising from rewetting, as well as increasing biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential. In addition, rewetting raises and stabilises the water table and increases water retention, as well as reducing infiltration and throughflow, leading to reduced hydraulic conductivity and mobility of pollutants.

As the ‘natural’ recolonization of peatland vegetation can take some time following rewetting, restoration techniques (e.g. reseeding or transplanting of essential peatland species) can speed up revegetation and produce further improvements in water quality.

For more information on this, please see a useful report by the Irish Water Forum: https://www.thewaterforum.ie/peatlands-research-report-launched-today-optimising-water-quality-returns-from-peatlands-management-while-delivering-co-benefits-for-biodiversity-and-climate-mitigation/