Catchment News

Significant Pressures: Urban Waste Water

The implementation of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive has led to a significant reduction in nutrients and organic material polluting surface waters. However, Ireland is still not fully compliant with this directive; pollution from some urban wastewater treatment facilities has not yet been adequately addressed, including pollution from smaller agglomerations, storm water overflows and micropollutants that damage the environment.

Discharges from urban wastewater treatment plants and agglomeration networks (UWW) have been identified as the fourth most prevalent significant pressure in the country. Nearly 200 waterbodies or 12% of all waterbodies ‘At Risk’ of not achieving their environmental objective under the Water Framework Directive have UWW as a significant pressure. Waterbodies are categorised as being ‘At Risk’ of not achieving its WFD objectives where the monitoring data shows evidence that water quality is impacted, and actions are required to deliver water quality improvements. This is based on the most recent characterisation assessment using data up to 2021.

Impacts of Urban Wastewater on Water Quality

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.