Fresh, clean water is vital for all life on earth. Clean, healthy water is essential for our economy, our aquatic wildlife and for our health and wellbeing. Ireland has some of the best water quality and cleanest beaches in Europe. Ireland’s climate means that there is usually enough water to meet the needs of its people and the surrounding environment. However, the EPA’s monitoring and assessment of water quality In Ireland indicates it is getting worse. Just over half of Ireland’s surface waters are in good condition.
The EPA monitor and assess the air quality in Ireland and our air quality currently is good, relative to other EU Member States, however local issues exist. Integrating air pollution controls, noise mitigation measures and climate action (for example, in transport management) can bring multiple benefits for the health and wellbeing of people and the environment in Ireland.
The EPA has a wide remit and is responsible for a range of tasks relating to the authorisation of activities that could have an impact on the environment or on human health. The EPA regulates and assesses major industrial, waste and wastewater operations in Ireland to ensure that they comply with environmental law and don’t endanger human health or harm the environment. We also regulate and assess the provision of drinking water to ensure that the water supplied is clean and compliant with environmental law.
The EPA carries out rigorous and continuous testing ensuring environmental radiation remains within internationally agreed and legal safety limits. This testing ensures the EPA are quickly made aware of changes in environmental radiation in Ireland and can provide you with health warnings and protection advice if necessary.
The EPA’s assessment of emissions to the environment indicates that systemic change is required for Ireland to become the climate-neutral, climate-resilient society and economy that it aspires to be. We need to move to a less wasteful and circular economy and to the use of clean energy systems. The transition to a clean energy future for heating, electricity and transport is essential for the protection of human health, the climate and the environment.
The EPA Water Programme works with others to monitor and assess the health of our rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters under the Water Framework Directive.
Date released: June 13, 2023
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published the report Water Quality in 2022 – An Indicators Report which provides an update on the water quality of Ireland’s rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal, and groundwaters for 2022.
Date released: May 11, 2023
The EPA has today published the Bathing Water Quality in Ireland report for 2022 which shows that water quality at the majority of Ireland’s bathing waters meets or exceeds the appropriate standards. 79% of bathing sites have 'Excellent’ water quality while 97% meet the minimum standard.
Date released: October 13, 2022
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published the Water Quality in Ireland Report 2016-2021 which provides the latest assessment of the quality of Ireland’s rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal and groundwaters.
A collection of frequently asked questions about monitoring and assessment to assist you with your queries.
popular FAQs about freshwater & marine
Where can I find information on water quality for my local river or lake?
I want to help look after my local river or lake. What should I do?
The Local Authority Waters Progamme has Community Water Officers all around the country who work with local people to build awareness, help build group capacity, support training and citizen science initiatives and strengthen links between public bodies, funders and communities who are looking after their rivers, lakes and other waters.
To whom do I report pollution such as: fish kill; forest fire; oil spillage?
Pollution incidents should be reported in the first instance to the local authority in whose area the incident occurred as they can respond rapidly. The Local Authority will contact the Environmental Protection Agency if an EPA licensed activity is concerned.
If you know it is an EPA licensed activity you should contact the EPA directly as well as the Local Authority.
This link has the full details about how to Make an Environmental Complaint
Fish kills: To report fish kills, members of the public are encouraged to call Inland Fisheries Ireland’s confidential hotline number on 0818 34 74 24, which is open 24 hours a day.
Forest Fire: If you need to report a forest fire please dial 999 and ask for Fire Services. You will be put through to one of the national call centres who will record the necessary details.
Where can I find information on bathing water quality at my local beach?
Before going to the beach you can check beaches.ie to see the latest bathing water quality (excellent, good, sufficient or poor) and find out if there are any current warnings or advice against swimming notices.
• At the beach or lake – lifeguards will fly the red flags when bathing waters are considered unsafe for bathing. You can check out the notice boards to see the latest water quality and if any warnings or advice against bathing notices have been posted by the local authorities.
• The 48-hour rule after heavy rain – swimming after heavy rainfall carries an added risk of pollution from surface runoff and is best avoided for 48 hours. Further information can be found on www.beaches.ie/protect-your-health-with-the-48-hour-rule/
• @EPABeaches – You can follow the @EPABeaches Twitter account and receive tweets of news and information on bathing waters and tweets of when bathing water incidents start and are over.
Microplastics - do they have an impact on water quality?
Microplastics are a newly identified contaminant in water sources, including drinking water sources, across the world. Microplastics are very tiny (<5 mm) pieces of plastic which can come from a variety of different materials.
As microplastics are an emerging water quality issue, the impact of them on people’s health has not yet been fully assessed and determined. There is currently no water quality standard for microplastics in the Drinking Water Regulations. However, the EPA is keeping a close eye on European and Irish research in this area, and there may be a standard set in the future.