What is a catchment, and why should I care?

All of us live in catchments, whether it is the catchment area for a school or hospital, or a catchment area for a local stream, river, lake or coastal water.

For water, a catchment is simply defined as an area of land contributing to a waterbody, with all the water ultimately running off to a single outlet.

Page 3 Catchment+mountain+cloud-arrows

3D depiction of a catchment

We all want to have good quality schools in our local community, and living in the catchment area for a good school can help make sure children get a good education, and even add to the value of your home.

In the same way, living in a catchment that has healthy water can help a community have a better quality of life – the water can make sure local people have high quality drinking water, support livelihoods like food production, recreational angling or water sports, and support local ecosystems, so plants, animals, fish and insects that depend on having healthy water can thrive and flourish.

To protect and improve our rivers, lakes and coastal waters, we need to understand how they flow through and are connected with the diverse landscapes that surround them, and what is causing pressure on their ability to support the communities, livelihoods and ecosystems that depend on them for clean and healthy water.

On this website, we have broken Ireland up into 46 larger catchments, and 583 subcatchments – meaning that you can find information about your local community’s catchment easily.

Image of the 46 catchments Ireland has been divided into

Ireland has been divided into 46 catchments

We have also included information about what you can do to help your local community look after your water, and the catchment that drains into it. This can be as simple as a spring clean of your riverbank once a year, or something bigger like working on establishing a Locally-led Agricultural Scheme or Rivers Trust for your local community.

Working together on these issues at local level has been shown to work around the world, and we have also have stories on the site from across Ireland of those who have developed community initiatives that have helped improve their quality of life, supported local livelihoods, and allowed local ecosystems to flourish.


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 waterbodies.

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 and Communities Office.


Local Authority Waters and Communities Office

The Waters and Communities Office has been established to carry out public consultation and engagement, and to coordinate the activities of all 31 local authorities in areas connected with the Water Framework Directive.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4829 waterbodies, looking at trends and changes and determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives and measures for each.


Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

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 that will be implemented after public consultation, and sign off by the Minister.