Catchment News

Water Quality in Ireland 2013-2018

The EPA report Water Quality In Ireland 2013-2018 was originally released on December 10 2019. Dr Shane O’Boyle from the EPA Water Programme recently recorded this presentation to give each local authority Strategic Policy Committee a national overview of water quality in Ireland.

Water quality in Ireland 2013-2018: key findings

  • Assessment shows only 53% of our surface water bodies have satisfactory water quality.
  • 92% of groundwater bodies, 80% of coastal waters, 53% of rivers, 50% of lakes and 38% of estuaries were found to be of satisfactory quality. 
  • Since the last full assessment, river water quality has got worse, with a net decline of 5.5% (128 water bodies) in the status of river water bodies.
  • We are continuing to see a loss of the pristine (‘best of the best’) river water bodies.  There are now just 20 pristine river sites down from over 500 sites in the late 1980s.  
  • The number of seriously polluted river water bodies (the ‘worst of the worst’) has started to rise – from 6 to 9 – after many years of an improving trend.
  • The number of fish kills increased to 40 in 2018 after a historic low of 14 in 2017.  It is likely that the hot summer and low flow conditions in 2018 had an impact on this. 

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.