Authors: Mary Kelly-Quinn, Michael Bruen, Craig Bullock, Mike Christie, Christian K. Feld, Jasper Kenter, Marcin Penk and Jeremy Piggott, September 2022
The ESDecide project set out to build on the outputs of the previous EPA-funded ESManage project by developing the tools and guidance needed to advance the incorporation of ecosystem services and the concept of “nature’s contribution to people” (NCP) into decision-making for the protection and management of freshwater resources and other related policy goals. The project developed the interactive decision support tool ProgRES, which helps river resource managers estimate the probability of changes in biological responses and the associated ecosystem services/NCP changes in environmental conditions.
Authors: Mary Kelly-Quinn, Michael Bruen, Jonathan N. Turner, John O’Sullivan, Jens Carlsson, Craig Bullock, Siobhan Atkinson and Colm M. Casserly, September 2022
The Reconnect project advanced knowledge on the impact of low-head barriers on connectivity in Irish rivers in terms of sediment dynamics and ecology (fish, macroinvertebrates and macrophytes) through studies undertaken from 2016 to 2020 in four core study areas on the Duag, Dalligan and Burren rivers and Browns Beck Brook and at 35 other locations across 12 river/stream systems. The project also developed a methodology for prioritising barriers for modification or removal to improve hydromorphology and connectivity.
Authors: Kathryn Schoenrock, Stacy Krueger-Hadfield, Kenan Chan, Rory O’Callaghan, Tony O’Callaghan, Aaron Golden and Anne Marie Power, July 2022
In Ireland, Kelp forests can be found along rocky shorelines and dominates rocky substrata along the Irish coastline (approximately 3010 km out of the 7524 km of national shoreline). The report makes recommendations concerning monitoring and preserving kelp ecosystems nationwide. A range of resilience metrics was assessed for subtidal kelp forests in Ireland to better understand how to monitor, manage and simply understand these systems and their potential responses to climate shifts in nearshore ecosystems.
Authors: Joanna O’Riordan, Richard Boyle, John O’Neill, Fergal O’Leary and Laura Shannon, March 2022
Clean, healthy water is essential for our economy, our aquatic wildlife and our health and wellbeing. However, as noted in the draft third-cycle River Basin Management Plan (Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, 2021), there are mounting environmental pressures on Ireland’s waters with the situation described as ‘’urgent’’. The objective of this research was to review changes in structures and processes made under the second-cycle River Basin Management Plan, 2018–2021, to inform thinking regarding the third-cycle River Basin Management Plan, 2022–2027.
Authors: Laurence Gill, Saheba Bhatnagar, Ella Bijkerk, Shane Regan, Celia Somlai, Owen Naughton, Bidisha Ghosh, Stephen Waldren, Catherine Coxon and Paul Johnston, February 2022
Wetlands provide important regulating ecosystem services, such as water purification, carbon capture and storage, and flood protection. They also provide rich habitats for biodiversity, including many protected species. This research project evaluated and developed methods for the assessment and definition of appropriate ecohydrological metrics to help policymakers conserve and/or restore wetlands, particularly with respect to meeting the objectives of the Water Framework Directive and Habitats Directive as applied to GWDTEs in Ireland.
Authors: Ian Thomas, Michael Bruen, Eva Mockler, Christopher Werner, Per-Erik Mellander, Sim Reaney, Anna Rymszewicz, Gavan McGrath, Edith Eder, Andrew Wade, Adrian Collins and Berit Arheimer, November 2021
Eutrophication, often driven by phosphorus, is the most significant issue for inland surface waters in Ireland. Half of Irish river water bodies still require improvements to bring them to good status, as required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC). This research contributes to Ireland’s response to the third River Basin Management Plan of the WFD and to the development and implementation of more sustainable and cost-effective agricultural policies.
Authors: Mike Christie, Jasper Kenter, Craig Bullock, Michael Bruen, Marcin Penk, Christian Feld and Mary Kelly-Quinn, August 2021
The Water Framework Directive requires the EPA to monitor the quality of water in Ireland’s rivers and lakes. This research reviewed the multiple values and benefits of nature, often termed ‘ecosystem services’ or’ nature’s contributions to people (NCPs)’. It provides insights into the multiple ways people value rivers and associated ecosystem services/ NCPs. The research also developed a decision support tool to assess the impacts on ecosystem services/NCPs of alternative river catchment measures.
Authors: Kevin Fitzgibbon, William Whelan-Curtin, Chinna Devarapu, Patricia Loren, Colin O’Sullivan and Ian Aherne, June 2021
The Innovative Water Monitoring project aimed to create an additional innovative sensing system for real-time detection of water quality parameters, to support the existing water quality monitoring policies, programmes and requirements under the Water Framework Directive, the Bathing Water Quality legislation, etc. It has demonstrated the ability to detect two such parameters, nitrates and Escherichia coli (E. coli), using the system.
Authors: Raymond Flynn, Francis Mackin and Florence Renou-Wilson, June 2021
Blanket bogs are common in many areas of Ireland, contributing to our most iconic landscapes. However, although they cover approximately 13% of the country, natural processes sustaining blanket bogs remain poorly understood. This research aimed to better understand blanket bog hydrology through a 3-year programme in which researchers monitored the flow and water quality in streams draining Irish blanket bogs that are relatively intact.
Authors: Eugene Farrell, Mary Bourke, Tiernan Henry, Gesche Kindermann, Kevin Lynch, Terry Morley, Barry O’Dwyer, John O’Sullivan and Jonathan Turner, June 2021
This research is a series of field experiments that measured patterns in the sediment and water pathways in the Golden Strand catchment, Achill Island, County Mayo. The results show that climate changes (storminess, temperature, precipitation) impacts are site specific and require long-term, multi-disciplinary field monitoring programmes (geomorphology; ecology; hydrology) to capture local specificity and environmental variability.
Authors: Richard Boyle, Joanna O’Riordan, Fergal O’Leary and Laura Shannon, May 2021
This report examines lessons learned from the water governance arrangements put in place for the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) 2018–2021 for Ireland through the lens of experimental governance. The study finds that the three-tier governance structure is appropriate and should be continued. However, there is still room for improvement in the area of adapting and improving the operation of the existing arrangements.
Authors: Joanna O’Riordan, Richard Boyle, Fergal O’Leary and Laura Shannon, May 2021
This report assesses water governance in Ireland using the Water Governance Indicator Framework, a tool developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2018 to assist countries in assessing their progress towards the European Union’s Water Framework Directive.
Authors: Patrick Bresnihan, Arielle Hesse and James Merricks White, January 2021
The quality of many of Ireland’s freshwater sources is declining, impacting in turn the quality and affordability of Ireland’s drinking water services. This project examines the history and development of the group water scheme sector, identifying how and why it has been successful in providing essential water services to rural Ireland, and providing several key findings that have implications beyond the rural water sector.
Authors: Joseph V. McGovern, Stephen Nash and Michael Hartnett, December 2020
In this project three Irish estuaries were modelled with the aim of quantifying the impact on water quality of existing nutrient loading from direct and diffuse inputs. Recommendations on the necessary nutrient load reductions to improve estuarine water quality and the appropriate pressure to target in nutrient load reductions for the three systems studied are provided.
Authors: Alan O’Riordan, Michael Nolan, Pierre Lovera, Julio Gutiérrez Moreno, Robert Daly and Benjamin O’Sullivan, November 2020
One important challenge in the 21st century is the ability to provide a clean and pollutant-free source of water. This project aimed to develop electrochemical and optical-based sensors for detection of organic contaminants (herbicides) and heavy metals. This research has shed light on the potential for the development and optimisation of novel environmental sensors and anti-biofouling strategies.
Authors: Yunhong Shi, Dunzhu Li, Laurence Gill, Bruce Misstear, Ian O’Donohue and Liwen Xiao, November 2020
Vartry Reservoir is a very important drinking water source in Ireland. This project collected and analysed historical water quality and ecology data from 2016 to 2018 and a series of laboratory experiments were carried out to investigate the causes of diatom blooms to identify the pressures. The study also monitored nutrient levels in both the feeding rivers and the reservoir.
Authors: Heather Lally, Ian O’Connor, Liam Broderick, Mark Broderick, Olaf Jensen and Conor Graham, September 2020
Water sampling remains a key component in the monitoring and assessment of aquatic environments. Sampling requiring the use of a boat can lead to issues around accessibility, particularly at remote lakes where there may be a lack of a slipway. This research has successfully demonstrated that water chemistry data collected using drone water sampling methods are not statistically different from those produced by boat sampling.
Authors: Daire Ó hUallacháin, Eleanor Jennings, Patricia Antunes, Stuart Green, Paul Kilgarriff, Suzanne Linnane, Paul O’Callaghan, Matt O’Sullivan, Fiona Regan, Mary Ryan and Mary Kelly-Quinn, July 2020
Loss of pollutants from grassland systems to water bodies is a significant threat to water quality and represents one of the main environmental problems facing agri-ecosystems in Ireland. This project evaluated existing literature and generated temporal and spatial data on the environmental impact of cattle exclusion measures.
Authors: Philip M. Perrin, Stephen Waldren, Marcin R. Penk and Fionnuala H. O’Neill , April 2020
Coastal saltmarshes provide a range of important ecosystem services but face increasing challenges because of human activities. Ecological assessments of saltmarshes are required to inform reporting in compliance with the European Union (EU) Habitats Directive (HD) (92/43/EEC) and Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC).
Authors: Mary Kelly-Quinn, Michael Bruen, Mike Christie, Craig Bullock, Hugh Feeley, Edel Hannigan, Thibault Hallouin, Fiona Kelly, Ronan Matson and Ewa Siwicka, April 2020
The ESManage project tested an eight-step methodological framework to help embed ecosystem services and the ecosystem services approach into policy and decision-making for the sustainable management of water resources, as required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD).