The over-riding objective of the monitoring programme is to achieve the objectives of the WFD – i.e. achievement of ‘Good Status’ generally and to retain ‘High’ and ‘Good Status’ where such already exists. Towards this end, the programme:

  • covers groundwater and surface waters: rivers, lakes, coastal and transitional waters;
  • includes special sub-programmes for the protected areas included in the Register of Protected Areas as defined in Article 6 of the WFD;
  • includes artificial and heavily modified water bodies and these, apart from canals monitoring programme, are monitored within the appropriate main monitoring programmes (rivers, lakes or transitional and coastal waters).

The Three Types of Monitoring

Under the Water Framework Directive there are 3 types of Monitoring:

  • Surveilance Monitoring: aims to allow assessment of long-term changes in natural conditions; the efficient and effective design of future monitoring programmes; validation of the impact assessment procedure detailed in Annex II of the Directive; and the assessment of long term changes resulting from human activity.
  • Operational Monitoring: aims to establish the status of waterbodies identified at being at risk of failing to meet their environmental objectives; and assess any changes in the status of such bodies resulting from the programmes of measures.
  • Investigative Monitoring: is reguired where the reason for any exceedences is unknown; where surveillance monitoring indicates that the objectives set under Article 4 for a body of water are not likely to be achieved and operational monitoring has not already been established, in order to ascertain the causes of a water body or water bodies failing to achieve the environmental objectives; or to ascertain the magnitude and impacts of accidental pollution; and shall inform the establishment of a programme of measures for the achievement of the environmental objectives and specific measures necessary to remedy the effects of accidental pollution.

Learn more:

Further information on monitoring of Irish rivers, lakes, groundwater, transitional (estuarine) and coastal waters is available in the water monitoring section of this website.

Water Quality and WFD GIS Data

Water Quality data are also available to download from the GIS section on our website:

Detail of the monitoring programmes is available in a WFD monitoring programme report. This document provides an overview of the WFD monitoring programme for all water categories: Rivers, Lakes, Transitional and Coastal waters; Groundwater and Canals. It also deals with Quality Control and Quality Assurance; Precision and Confidence of Monitoring Programmes, and Data Management and Reporting and provides a detailed breakdown of the WFD monitoring programme for each water category. For each water category, subnets are defined; the elements to be covered are outlined and the frequency of monitoring is specified for each network.