High status or pristine waters are in close to pristine condition, rich in biodiversity and show little or no impact from human activity. Ireland is one of a few EU member states that still have high status water bodies. In 2018, the EPA reported that Ireland had 137 HS rivers down from 259 in 2012. The 2018-2021 River Basin Management Plan aimed to bring 319 rivers back to high status but only 43% of these achieved that status by 2021.
The Waters of Life project aims to reverse the deterioration by implementing and testing a range of measures to assess their effectiveness in 5 river catchments to identify those actions that achieve the best outcomes, the right measure in the right place.
The primary pressures identified as acting on high status objective water bodies are:
- hydromorphology: 29%
- agriculture: 22%
- forestry: 29%
- unknown anthropogenic: 11%
- extractive industries (peat and quarrying): 5%
- domestic wastewater: 4%
The report, published today, comprises a comprehensive set of measures to address pressures on water quality from the range of sectors considered to be impacting on these types of rivers, which are often located in remote, rural parts of the country.
Participating landowners including foresters will be able to avail of support from a voluntary Results-Based Payments Scheme linking higher environmental quality with higher payments.
The DHLGH is the lead authority for the project and there are 16 different project partners, including:
- Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine
- Local Authorities Waters Programme
- Environmental Protection Agency
- The Forest Service
- Local development companies
The report containing the best practice guidelines and proposed measures can be found at: