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Ireland’s National Water Framework Directive Monitoring Programme, 2019-2021

This document presents Ireland’s national WFD monitoring programme for surface and groundwater bodies. The programme aims to provide a coherent and comprehensive national overview of the ecological and chemical status of surface waters (rivers, lakes, transitional and coastal waters) and the quantitative and chemical status of groundwaters.

This information is used, amongst other things, to track progress towards the achievement of the environmental objectives in Ireland’s national River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) and to assess change in the quality of Ireland’s aquatic environment over time.

WFD Monitoring Programme 2019-2021

This document provides a description of the type of monitoring to be undertaken, the number of water bodies in each water category to be monitored and the frequency of that monitoring. Specific information on individual water bodies in terms of the environmental quality elements to be monitored and the frequency of this monitoring is provided to public authorities electronically via the Water Framework Directive App and publicly on each waterbody page on under the Monitoring Programme tab.

The programme is comprised of 3,169 surface and groundwater bodies. This includes 2,422 river water bodies, 224 lakes, 84 transitional water bodies, 47 coastal waters and 392 groundwater bodies. In addition, there are 159 sites used to assess groundwater quantitative status.

The programme includes two main types of monitoring networks:

  • A surveillance monitoring network to provide a comprehensive and long-term picture of water body status across the State, and
  • An operational network to assess the status of water bodies at risk of failing to meet their environmental objectives and to assess if a change in the status of a water body is the result of a programme of measures.

There are 287 surface water bodies and 259 groundwater bodies in the surveillance monitoring network and 2418 surface water bodies and 133 groundwater bodies in the operational monitoring network.

A third type of monitoring known as investigative monitoring is undertaken on an ad-hoc basis when additional information on unknown exceedances, an unexplained phenomenon, or accidental pollution is required.

Learn more:

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.