The European Water Framework Directive
Our rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal and groundwaters are assessed under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). This EU law came into effect in December 2000. Having a single European framework to assess water quality allows us to compare our results across Europe.
Our surface waters are classified into five quality classes (status) under the WFD:
‘High’ is when the water is unpolluted, and ‘Bad’ is when the water is highly polluted.
Our ground waters fall into two quality classes (status) under the WFD: ‘good’ and ‘poor’.
The WFD allows us to see where actions are needed to achieve ‘good’ status or to protect ‘good’ status where it already exists. It also helps us identify what actions need to be taken. We can restore rivers to ‘good’ and ‘high’ status by using targeted actions and measures to reduce the impact of human activities.
We also assess the available water resources in our rivers, lakes and groundwaters to determine if there is enough water to sustain a healthy environment.
More information on the WFD can be found on the website of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. This includes the plans that are being implemented in Ireland to help us achieve ‘good’ and ‘high’ status.
The EPA HydroNet site provides you with access to summary surface water hydrometric data and groundwater level data that has been collected at the network of Local Authorities' hydrometric stations and processed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The site also contains station information and data links for hydrometric stations contained in the National hydrometric register but operated by organisations other than the EPA.
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