Significant Pressures

Update on pressures impacting on water quality

22 May 2024: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the latest assessment of the pressures that impact on water quality in our rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwaters. The assessment shows that 34% of our waterbodies are at risk of not meeting their water quality objectives because of the impacts of human activities.

Nutrient pollution from agriculture and urban waste water remains the most significant issue. Alterations to the physical aquatic habitat (hydromorphology) caused by dredging, straightening of river channels and drainage, and loss of excess fine sediment to waterways are also a significant concern.

Significant pressures on water quality in Ireland – 2015, 2018, and 2021 assessments

Learn More:

You can download the ‘Update on pressures impacting on water quality’ from the EPA website.

The report has a spreadsheet to support it which includes information on the ecological status, impacts and pressures for all 4842 waterbodies in Ireland. It also has a link to each individual waterbody page on the data pages, which allows you to access detailed information and downloadable chemistry monitoring data, where available. There is also a link to view each waterbody on the EPA Water Map. 

Impacts of the main significant pressures on water quality

The EPA has prepared a series of reports that summarises the evidence on each of the main significant pressures that impact on water quality.

The series currently includes reports on the following key pressures:

Catchment Assessments

This report series is complemented by a sister series of 46 catchment reports which describe the water quality, risk, pressures and other relevant data for each waterbody in each catchment.

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.