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: 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.
Date released: May 12, 2022
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published the Bathing Water in Ireland report for 2021, which shows that 78 per cent of bathing sites have excellent water quality, while 97 per cent meet the minimum standard.
Date released: July 14, 2021
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published the Water Quality in 2020: An Indicators Report which provides an assessment of the quality of Ireland’s rivers, lakes, estuaries and groundwaters.
A collection of frequently asked questions about monitoring and assessment to assist you with your queries.
popular FAQs about freshwater & marine
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.
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 us directly as well as the Local Authority. Use the following link to obtain full details about how to Make an Environmental Complaint
Can the EPA stop farmers discharging pollution into rivers?
This is primarily a matter for the relevant Local Authority, under the Water Pollution Act 1977. If, however, the Local Authority is not fulfilling its function, a complaint can be made to the EPA who will take up the matter with the relevant Local Authority to ensure pollution is not taking place.
Where can I find information on water quality at my local beach?
Before you visit the beach this summer with your family or friends, check www.beaches.ie or our Twitter feed @EPABeaches, for information on current water quality and details of any incidents affecting bathing waters. When you get to the beach always check the local notice board to ensure the water quality is good before getting into the water for a swim.