Catchment News

Dublin Urban Rivers LIFE: finding bad plumbing and building wetlands to keep wastewater away from local rivers

The Dublin Urban Rivers Life project aims to improve water quality by making it quicker and easier to find domestic misconnection (that’s the bad plumbing) and by building wetlands in public parks to treat and improve stormwater quality before it reaches local rivers. Assessment of stormwater quality at 12,000 houses across the two counties is currently underway and the reception from householders to project staff at the doorstep has been incredibly positive.

The Dublin Urban Rivers LIFE is a unique collaboration between South Dublin County Council as project lead, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, and the EU LIFE Programme. The four-year project has a budget of €2.6 million with the EU LIFE Programme providing 50% of that funding. The project is expected to be completed by June 2024. The project will help Ireland to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive and the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022-2027.

In this video SDCC’s Mayor and DLRCC’s An Cathaoirleach introduce the Dublin Urban Rivers LIFE (DURL) project which aims to improve water quality and aquatic biodiversity in urban areas by finding domestic misconnections and by building wetlands in public parks to treat and improve water quality.

Domestic misconnections are incorrectly plumbed washing machines and dishwashers draining to the surface water drainage pipe network which ultimately drains to the local river rather. This wastewater should drain to the foul sewer. This means untreated wastewater from misconnected wastewater is entering rivers and bathing sites, directly polluting those waters and its aquatic habitats.

The project uses a combination of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) desktop mapping, Apps and field data collected by project staff to find houses most likely to have a misconnection. The purpose of taking this approach is to try and reduce inconvenience to householders not misconnected, and to increase the cost efficiency of finding domestic misconnections. Using IT solutions allows the process for fixing domestic misconnections to be managed efficiently, from the first call to a householder to eventually confirming all pipes are properly connected.

The project is also in the process of building five integrated constructed wetlands in South Dublin County to treat polluted stormwater before it enters the local rivers. These natural water retention measures will improve the quality of the receiving river, provide flood alleviation, bioretention of particulates and nutrients, improve habitat conditions and biodiversity, and promote the relationship between green infrastructure and public wellbeing. They also help to protect us, our homes, and our infrastructure against flooding.

Data from the mapping aspects of the project and from the performance of the integrated constructed wetlands will help with the creation of a Decision-Support Tool to help and assist water managers in other local authorities in Ireland and Europe, planners, project developers and policymakers to use when deciding future options to improve storm water draining from urban areas.

Learn more:

Check out for more information on all aspects of the project or email: .

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.