An Indicators Report
Summary: This report provides timely, scientifically sound information on water quality to inform decision makers as well as the public using a series of water quality indicators.
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While the aquatic environment is complex, a number of key insights can be taken from the indicators presented in this report. Some of these insights are positive, such as the decline in nutrient pollution and reduction in serious pollution events that result in fish kills. Others are negative and indicate that nutrient pollution is still an issue in some areas, while the loss of our highest quality and pristine river sites indicates a substantial deterioration in the quality of these previously unimpacted sites.
We can see from the nutrient-based indicators that loadings of nutrients to the sea have substantially decreased over the past 25 years. However, we still have issues with water quality and a substantial number of our rivers, lakes and estuaries are not as healthy as they should be. High levels of phosphorus in the north-east of the country are impacting on lake water quality, while high nitrogen concentrations in the south and south-east are impacting on the quality of many of our estuaries. There has also been a serious and continuing deterioration in river water quality in the north-west of the country. Figures indicate that Ireland’s chemical groundwater quality is generally good. However, in terms of microbiological quality a high proportion of groundwater sites (42%) are contaminated with the bacterium E. coli, indicating the presence of faecal contamination.