The national rivers monitoring programme is run by the EPA and focuses on the main river channels, rather than smaller streams. The programme includes more than 2,800 sites sampled for biology. Almost half of these are also sampled for physical (e.g. oxygen content) and chemical (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus) parameters.
What is monitored?
The biological monitoring assesses:
The physical and chemical parameters measured in the field and laboratory include:
The hydrological parameters include water level and flow.
The biology is monitored once every three years, while the physical and chemical parameters are measured several times a year. We monitor river levels and flows continuously and any changes in the physical structure of the river channel are also recorded.
For technical information on our survey methods and our detailed monitoring programme, please see our report.
Healthy rivers are an important natural resource as they:
The quality of our most polluted rivers has improved when there has been:
Nevertheless, while river water quality in Ireland compares favourably to that in Europe, we continue to see a worrying trend in the loss of our highest quality river sites and an increase in the number of poor quality sites.
The water quality at over half (53%) of the monitored river water bodies in Ireland is categorised as being at ‘good’ and ‘high’ ecological status – while the remainder are at less than good (47%).
The number of water bodies at ‘bad’ ecological status has more than halved since 2007-2009. This is because serious pollution from industrial and urban wastewater has been addressed.
Excess nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, cause the most problems for the ecology in Irish rivers, so it is important to minimise nutrient losses to water. Irish rivers also face threats from:
The ecological status of rivers in Ireland
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The ecological status of rivers in Ireland 2013 to 2018 with hydrometric areas numbered.
You can also download results from our assessments by hydrometric area here.
Catchments.ie shares science and stories about our waters. This includes the Catchments Newsletter, detailed assessments for our 46 catchments and 583 subcatchments, downloadable chemistry data, and dashboards for an overview of status, pressures, impacts and objectives.