The Environmental Protection Agency conducts an ongoing monitoring programme by which river water quality and trends are assessed with respect to ecological criteria and to physico-chemical water quality standards. All of the major rivers and their more important tributaries are included in the programme.

The biological programme covers a channel length of approximately 13,200km and involves sampling at some 2,300 stations. A complete survey cycle is completed every three years.

As part of the physico-chemical monitoring programme, we assess approximately 1,500 stations annually.


Rivers Monitoring Programme

The National Rivers Monitoring Programme was replaced by the Water Framework Monitoring Programme in December 2006.

The current monitoring programme for rivers is outlined in Appendix 7.1 of the Irish Water Framework Monitoring Programme The list of monitoring sites is provided in a spreadsheet with location and other information. The frequency of monitoring and a list of the quality elements being monitored for at each site is also given. The sampling frequency and elements vary depending on which monitoring subnet a site belongs to. The subnet or subnets to which a site belongs to is flagged in the spreadsheet.


River Water Quality Reports and Maps

As part of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) Monitoring Programme approximately one third of our major rivers and their more important tributaries are surveyed and assessed each year by EPA ecologists.


The results of the most recent biological surveys are available on the EPA interactive maps and also on www.catchments.ie

These maps are updated automatically once the surveys are completed and the data is validated.


A number of online reports are also available:

Water Quality Indicator reports include the results of the biological monitoring programme providing an overview of all the main issues related to the quality of the aquatic environment in Ireland. These reports are broken down by river basin district.

Reports by hydrometric area provide the latest available data for any given hydrometric area in the country (the island of Ireland is divided into 40 hydrometric areas).

In addition river water quality reports are ocassionally published giving the results of surveys carried out in a given year.  All the most recent data is available in the hydrometric area reports and interactive maps referred to above.

The annual biological surveys are also aggregated once every three years to give a complete national picture and these provide a river-by-river breakdown of ecological status. These overviews cover such topics as national and regional quality trends, suspected pollution causes, fish kills, performance of sewage treatment plants, toxic contaminants and other current water quality issues.  Canals, lakes, coastal waters and groundwater are also covered.

The results of these biological surveys feed into the ecological status assessments for the WFD River Basin Management Plans providing status for some of the important biological quality elements such as macroinvertebrates and aquatic plants.

Drinking water and bathing water are covered in other specific reports.


Learn more

Download the Latest Reports on River Water Quality

View Interactive River Water Quality Maps