The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday (December 16) released the latest report on key indicators of the aquatic environment, Water Quality in Ireland 2007 – 2008, which summarises national water quality assessments.

The key findings of the report reveal that in 1987 30% of Irish rivers sampled were of high ecological status.

However, by 2008 this has dropped by almost half to 17%, located in less densely populated, less developed and less intensively farmed areas.

In addition to applying protective measures to those sites assigned high and good status, the EPA says almost 50% of river and lake water bodies will require restorative measures – while 40% of estuaries and coastal waters will also need to be restored

The EPA believes the dramatic fall is due to nutrient inputs, siltation, and acidification associated with activities such as forestry, agriculture and housing development.

Dara Lynott, director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said: “The scale of the task of achieving the objectives of the Water Framework Directive is now becoming clearer.

“Deterioration of groundwater quality is also a major cause for concern, the level of bacterial and nutrient contamination in our ground waters is increasing and faecal coliforms were detected in more than half of the groundwater locations sampled.”

The report can be viewed here.

Luke Walsh

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