Catchment News

EPA Research Report No 176: SILTFLUX Literature Review

The EPA has published the EPA Research Report No 176SILTFLUX Literature Review.

The SILTFLUX project: Measurement of sediment and siltflux in rivers, benefits of enhancement measures & policy implications,  is a multi-institutional proposal involving participants from UCD, University of Birmingham and Ireland’s Inland Fisheries Board addressing a very large deficit in knowledge about sediment fluxes and impacts in Ireland. It aims at:

  1. Establishing the current state of international knowledge through a thorough literature review;
  2. Establishing a database of data relevant to the Irish condition;
  3. Validating existing surrogate (optical or acoustic) methods of sediment flux measurement methods for Irish conditions and, if necessary, develop a new and easy to use method for measuring silt accumulation in river bed substrates;
  4. Using the knowledge, expertise and equipment developed above to characterise sediment outputs from both unimpacted and impacted rivers for a variety of river types;
  5. Evaluating the effectiveness of management measures; and
  6. Developing guidance for policy makes in relation to sediment management.

The SILTFLUX final outputs (technical and synthesis reports) will be published later on this year.

Download the Report:

SILTFLUX Literature Review Cover

About the report:

EPA-funded research generates a scientific knowledge base to support environmental protection.

Projects are carefully targeted to deliver on three key areas: Identifying pressures; Informing policy, Developing Solutions.

Identify Pressures

Fine sediment delivery to rivers is increasingly recognised internationally as a substantial water quality and hydro-ecological problem. The SILTFLUX project aimed to improve knowledge of fine sediment delivery as a pollution pressure in Irish rivers. The project has studied sediment flux dynamics with respect to key flow events and their actual and potential ecological impacts in different Irish river systems that are subject to variable land-use pressures. The SILTFLUX Literature Review distils the current knowledge of these effects and of methodologies for reducing their impacts in conditions typical of Ireland.

Inform Policy

The SILTFLUX project will help inform environmental management and policy in the setting of standards for suspended sediment fluxes and concentrations appropriate for the protection of sensitive catchments in Ireland. The SILTFLUX Literature Review synthesises the considerable international debate that has surrounded the basis for establishing such standards, particularly on the issues of (i) whether they should be based on sediment loads, suspended sediment concentrations, deposited sediment or all three, and (ii) how such standards can account for the biological impacts of both transported and deposited sediment. Addressing these issues in a framework that is easily and reliably measurable and which lends itself to monitoring on a national scale remains a challenge.

Developing Solutions

The SILTFLUX project has also identified the benefits of suspended sediment reduction possible from a broad range of measures and land management practices, to support the development of mitigation policies. A review of the published literature and existing measured data was undertaken to establish an initial “state of the art” position. The SILTFLUX Literature Review was international in scope but included key foci on information that was relevant to the conditions and pressures experienced in Irish catchments. Existing sediment datasets from the literature, as well as the projects own data, were compiled in a database that identifies the range of fluxes to be expected in Irish river systems.


D. Lawler, A. Rymszewicz, L. Conroy, John O’Sullivan, M. Bruen, J. Turner, M. Kelly-Quinn


The EPA Research team would  like to thank the following for their valuable input on the project steering committee, Professor Des Walling, Professor John Quinton, Professor Steve Ormerod, Dr Martin McGarrigle, Catherine Bradley, Colin Byrne, Marie Archbold, Wayne Trodd and Donal Daly.

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.