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  • Publication
    Progress in Implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Ireland
    Successful implementation of the Water Framework Directive is vital to water resources management in Ireland. Based on lessons learned from the 1st cycle of implementation, more effective governance arrangements have been put in place, the EPA has been given additional responsibilities and community engagement has been given a high priority. Integrated catchment management (ICM) has become the accepted philosophy and approach. ICM requires catchments to be the appropriate organising landscape unit for water management, which is undertaken at five scales: site/field; water body (almost 5,000 groundwater, river, lake, transitional and coastal); subcatchment (583); catchment (46) and river basin (one national and two international). A comprehensive characterisation process is being undertaken which allocates all WBs into At Risk, Not at Risk and Review categories, whereby At Risk WBs require actions and resources to improve the situation. Geoscientific information and understanding are critical to the characterisation process. Initial subcatchment and catchment characterisation is due for completion in early 2017. Consideration of environmental objectives and mitigation measures has commenced, and will be finalised for the River Basin Management Plan due for publication in December 2017. A new tool, the WFD Application, has been developed to enable ready access to water quality data and the outcomes of the characterisation work. The Application is being made available through the development of a new 'water hub' website called
  • Publication
    What are the main sources of nutrient inputs to Ireland's aquatic environment?
    Where rivers and lakes are impacted by excess nutrients, we need to understand the sources of those nutrients before mitigation measures can be selected. In these areas, modelling can be used in conjunction with knowledge from local authorities and information gained from investigative assessments to identify significant pressures that contribute excessive nutrients to surface waters. Where surface waters are impacted by excess nutrients, understanding the sources of those nutrients is key to the development of effective, targeted mitigation measures. In Ireland, nutrient emissions are the main reason that surface waters are not achieving the required Good Status, as defined by the Water Framework Directive (WFD). A model has been developed in order to predict the sources of nutrients contributing to these emissions and to assess future pressures and the likely effectiveness of targeted mitigation scenarios. This Source Load Apportionment Model (SLAM) supports catchment managers by providing scientifically robust evidence to back-up decision-making in relation to reducing nutrient pollution. The SLAM is a source-oriented model that calculates the nitrogen and phosphorus exported from each sector (e.g. pasture, forestry, wastewater discharges) that contribute to nutrient loads in a river. Model output is presented as maps and tables showing the proportions of nutrient emissions to water attributed to each sector in each sub-catchment. The EPA has incorporated these model results into the multiple lines of evidence used for the WFD characterisation process for Irish catchments.