There was an overall net improvement in the 190 Areas for Action prioritised in the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) 2018-2121, showing that action taken to improve water quality delivers results. The knowledge gathered in monitoring programmes and water-related research projects needs to be used more widely. It can provide information and solutions to water quality problems and inform policy development in this area.
While some water bodies improved in status in recent years, overall there has been a decline in surface water quality. If this rate of decline continues, it is unlikely that the modest targets set in Ireland’s second-cycle RBMP will be met. Nearly 1,500 water bodies have been identified as being at risk of not meeting their environmental objectives.
Local community initiatives are providing opportunities for local communities and farmers to get involved in local water quality catchment-based projects. With the support of LAWPRO, these initiatives have the potential to more effectively tackle threats to water protection and restoration at a local level.
Key developments for the protection of marine waters include the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Marine Spatial Planning Directive, and the adoption of measures stemming from the review of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Climate change is expected to bring additional pressures to bear on Ireland's water environment. Waters which are clean and relatively free of pollution will be more resilient. The ecological health of our inland surface waters will ultimately determine the ability of these waters to cope with the effects of climate change.
Learn more about the outlook for our water environment