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Water Quality in 2017: an indicators report – EPA

The EPA has released the Water Quality in 2017: An Indicators Report for Ireland.

The 16 indicators in the report provide information on the quality of Ireland’s rivers, lakes, canals, estuaries, coastal waters, beaches and groundwaters.  They are:

  1. River quality
  2. High-quality river sites
  3. Nitrate in rivers
  4. Phosphate in rivers
  5. Canal quality
  6. Lake biological quality
  7. Total phosphorus in lakes
  8. Fish kills
  9. Trophic status of estuaries and coastal waters
  10. Nitrogen in estuaries and coastal waters
  11. Phosphorus in estuaries and coastal waters
  12. Nutrient inputs to the marine environment
  13. Nitrate in groundwater
  14. Phosphate in groundwater
  15. Bacteria in groundwater
  16. Bathing water quality

The report showed a net overall decline of 3 per cent (72 water bodies) in the water quality in Irish rivers between 2015 and 2017, despite some improvements.  Commenting on the report, Dr Matt Crowe, Director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment said “Clean, healthy water is essential to our health and wellbeing. The signals in this report are not good and tell us that water quality is still getting worse in some areas despite improvements in others.  This is simply unacceptable. We must do more to halt deterioration in water quality so that we protect this most precious public resource.  “Substantial additional resources have recently been put in place by the State with the creation of the Local Authority Waters Programme and the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advice Programme. These programmes will support action at local level to address the issues causing water pollution. We now need to start seeing visible improvements in water quality through the work of these new programmes. The EPA will continue to play its part in this by providing the science and evidence to support action on the ground and will also continue to report regularly on progress.”

The strongest signal in this report is coming from our biological assessment of river quality (Indicator 1) and some worrying signs are emerging. We have seen a 3% reduction in river water quality since 2015. Some 56% of our river water bodies are at high or good quality with the remaining 44% at moderate or worse. When we compare the current data with the last full assessment in 2013–2015 we see that while 197 river water bodies have improved in quality, there has been a decline in the biological quality of 269 water bodies.

Addressing the main findings of the assessment, Andy Fanning, Programme Manager, EPA Office of Evidence and Assessment said: “The report highlights that the loss of our best quality waters is continuing.  It is also clear that there is a general decline in river water quality. Worryingly, this report also shows a rise in nutrient inputs to our seas from our rivers.  “Most pollution is caused by too much nitrogen and phosphorus entering waters. These excess nutrients come from human activities, predominantly our farms and urban areas. The increases are an early warning that we need to address the sources and the pathways by which these nutrients make their way into our rivers and lakes. The success in addressing serious pollution and the reduction in fish kills shows that we can make positive changes when we put our minds to it.”

Verde Environmental Consultants has built a team of water resource assessment specialists who are focused on delivering quality hydrogeological services to our clients in industry.

Verde provide all aspects of hydrogeological services such as groundwater abstraction feasibility assessments, authorisation of discharges to groundwater technical assessments and water quality/level monitoring.

The development of sustainable groundwater resources is a key element in helping our clients to reduce costs associated with the use of water.

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