Catchment News

2020: Our year in review

Below, you can find some of the EPA’s 2020 work on water. This included holding our largest ever water conference and publication of reports on water quality indicators and bathing water quality for 2019. A monthly hydrology summary bulletin was launched in May 2020. We’ve also highlighted water-related EPA press releases, our top 5 stories on and our most popular Tweet for each month. This gives a flavor of what we’ve been working on, and perhaps more importantly what resonated with the Irish public.

One of the absolute highlights was our photo competition to celebrate the launch of Ireland’s Rivers in December – if you want to see hundreds of stunningly beautiful photos of Ireland’s rivers, coasts and lakes, scroll down to the very bottom of this page to our December 2020 tweet and make sure you check out all the wonderful replies. Thanks so much to everyone who entered this competition.

2020 EPA Water Conference

The biggest change in 2020 was the move to working from home and virtual conferences and meetings. Our June 2020 EPA Water Conference was our largest ever, with over 1250 attendees. This was roughly three times more people than had attended any previous water conference. All the presentations can be watched on YouTube. Slide decks and some additional questions from attendees that were answered by our panelists after the event are at the above link.

Selected EPA Press Releases

Some key EPA press releases relating to water are below. You can find all EPA press releases for 2020 on

Selected EPA Publications

Ireland’s environment: an integrated assessment

On 25 November 2020 the EPA published Ireland’s Environment – An Integrated Assessment 2020 which provides an assessment of the overall quality of Ireland’s environment, the pressures being placed on it and the societal responses to current and emerging environmental issues. This State of the Environment report is published every 4 years.

Water Quality in 2019 – an indicators report

In December 2020, the EPA published Water Quality in 2019: an indicators report.

  • Just over half of Irish surface waters are in a satisfactory condition.
  • Nutrient concentrations in waters are too high and the trends are going in the wrong direction.
  • Nitrate concentrations are now increasing in nearly half of our river and groundwater sites.
  • Phosphate levels are increasing in a quarter of river sites. 
  • Concentrations of nitrate are highest in the south and south east of the country where the main source is agriculture.
  • Delivering on the key objectives of Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan and targeted action at local water catchment level is key to improving water quality.

Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 2019

In May 2020, the EPA published the Bathing Water in Ireland report for 2019 which set out the quality of bathing water at our beaches. Overall, bathing water quality improved across the country in 2019, although quality did decline at some locations.

Hydrology Summary Bulletin

In May 2020, the EPA Water Programme started publishing monthly hydrology summary bulletins. These bulletins contains river flow and water level graphs for a sample of surface water and groundwater hydrometric stations across Ireland. The bulletin also contains maps which show how flows and levels at stations across the country compare to the average for the month.

Summer 2020 Catchments Newsletter

We published one Catchments Newsletter in 2020. In this issue, we had stories on:

Waters and Communities News: Citizen science on our rocky shorelines; Nature on our Doorsteps; Stoneybatter’s water mural and pollinator plan; online community meetings; The LAWPRO Community Water Fund.

Articles: EPA Water Conference 2020; new Water Map and Chemistry downloads on; An Forum Usice on public involvement in decision making; measuring water flows and levels; stonefly threatened with extinction; Blue Dot Catchments; NFGWS Biodiversity Framework; Environmental Sensitivity Mapping; Natural Capital Accounting; The Living Bog’s water; The Flood of Venice.

Top stories on

Our top five posts on for 2020 were:

  1. Hydromorphology: what is it?
  2. 2020 EPA Water Conference – watch online now
  3. Ireland’s Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme
  4. changes – new water map
  5. The Blue Dots Catchments Programme

Top tweets for @EPACatchments













Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,842 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures to protect and restore our waters.