Catchment News

Assessment of the catchments that need reductions in nitrogen concentrations to achieve water quality objectives

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The EPA has carried out an analysis to identify the catchments where nitrogen concentrations are too high to support healthy aquatic ecosystems, or at least Good Ecological Status under the Water Framework Directive.

The reductions in nitrogen in waters that are needed in these catchments has been calculated, and critical source area maps have been developed to help target nitrogen control measures in the landscape. Although achieving Good Ecological Status requires that relevant standards are also met for other quality elements, such as macroinvertebrates, dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, fish and other relevant parameters, for the purposes of this document, the focus is on nitrogen.

This document describes the following:

  • The catchments of concern that have elevated nitrogen concentrations;
  • The annual load (tonnes) of nitrogen that has discharged from major catchments out to sea over the last decade;
  • The annual nitrogen load reductions that would have been needed to keep the nitrogen concentration below the Environmental Quality Standard1 over the decade;
  • The sources of nitrogen in the catchments of concern; and
  • The critical source area maps that have been developed by EPA to help target nitrogen;
  • measures in catchments.

Assessment of the types of actions on land that will be needed to achieve the required reductions in nitrogen in waters is being considered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, with support from Teagasc, and is outside the scope of this assessment.

Catchment nitrogen reductions assessment - June 2021.pdf  Download  


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.