Review of Literature Related to River Water Quality in Ireland

Category: Chemistry, Nature, Water
Last Updated: 09 Sep 2020
Essay type: Review
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Table of contents

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 River Water Quality in Ireland

National studies of Irish rivers have been carried out since 1971. In 1971, 2,900km of the river channel was surveyed. The studies consisted of chemical and biological appraisals. This was before the constitution of the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ), the competent authority at the clip was An Foras Forbartha.

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The EPA was established in 1992 and they so became the competent authority for H2O quality monitoring in Ireland. In 2006, the EU Water Framework Directive Monitoring Programme was implemented. From 2004-2006, 13,240km of the river channel was surveyed, with biological trying carried out at 2,985 trying sites on 1,151 rivers and chemical sampling at 2,500 sites. ( EPA, 2008 ) The Monitoring Programme was put in topographic point to run into the demands of the EU Water Framework Directive ( 2000/60/EC ), the European Communities ( Water Quality ) Regulations, 2003, Groundwater Regulations ( S.I. No 9 of 2010 ), and Environmental Objectives European Communities ( Surface Water ) 2009.

From 2007-2009, of the 13,240km surveyed the river quality showed 70 % were uncontaminated and 30 % were damaged to a greater to a lesser extent. The National Water Monitoring Reports are compiled and published every three old ages. The most recent study 2011 showed that 20.1 % of rivers had a high positions, 48.8 % good position, 20.7 % moderate position, 10 % hapless position, and 0.4 % river channel was bad position. ( EPA, 2011 )

2.2 Ashlane River Source

Ashlane River is sourced from Lough Gill. It flows downstream via the Garavogue River. It diverts into its ain watercourse known as Ashlane River. The River flows through Hazelwood Demesne and so through the Institute of Technology. And so out to Carton Bay which flows to Sligo Harbour.

2.3 Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC

2.3.1 Overview

The Water Framework Directive was introduced in 2000. It established the legal model to protect, preserve, and better the quality of surface, transitional and coastal Waterss and groundwater where necessary. It besides includes modified and unreal H2O organic structures. The Water Framework Directive sets out clear deadlines. The primary aim set out in the Water Framework Directive is to accomplish at least a good H2O position by December 2015.

The Directive was transposed into Irish statute law by the Water Policy Regulations ( S.I. No 722 of 2003 ), Surface Water Regulations ( S.I. No 272 of 2009 ), and Groundwater Regulations ( S.I. No 9 of 2010 ). These ordinances govern the form of the Directive by word picture, monitoring, and position appraisal programs.

The Directive besides aims to continue, protect and enhance Waterss, and manage H2O organic structures based on river basins or catchments. The definition of a good H2O position for surface Waterss is based on its ecological position and chemical position. The Directive set out five ecological position categories: ‘high’, ‘good’, ‘moderate’, ‘poor’, and ‘bad’. ( EPA, 2005 )

2.3.2 River Basin Districts

A river basin is defined as a country of land from which surface run-off flows through watercourses, rivers, and lakes into the sea at a river oral cavity or estuary. In 2003, the designation of the River Basin Districts and competent governments were completed. For each RBD a River Basin Management Plan ( RBMP ) was developed and implemented. The chief purpose of the RBD is to make an incorporate monitoring and direction system for all Waterss within each RBD, to bring forth RBMP. ( EPA, 2005 )

Figure 1: The eight River Basin Districts of Ireland. ( Water Matters, 2007 )

2.3.3 Characterisation ( Article 5 ) Summary Reports

Under the WFD a drumhead word picture study ( article 5 ) was developed in 2004 for all RBD in their legal power. This needed:

  • ‘an analysis of RBD characteristics’
  • ‘A reappraisal of the impact of human activity on the position of surface Waterss and on groundwater’
  • ‘An economic analysis of H2O use’

The chief aim of the word picture study was to supply a sum-up of the initial word picture at each RBD degree. To make this physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of surface H2O and groundwater were assessed alongside the force per unit areas due to human activity. The study identified the H2O organic structures at hazard or non at the hazard of accomplishing the ‘good H2O status’ by 2015. ( EPA, 2005 )

The word picture study has given an image of the present province of H2O organic structures within each RBD. It gives a better apprehension of the future province of all H2O organic structures and provided a starting point for the design of the ‘Programme of Measures’. The Programme of Measure is a combination of policies and direct actions for the bar of impairment of H2O quality position utilizing a cost effectual attack. ( EPA, 2005 )

It sets out the steps that may necessitate being taken and developed into each RBMP of the RBD. The Programme of Measures are steps needed to run into the aims set out in the WFD in those H2O organic structures non accomplishing or at the hazard of non accomplishing a good position. ( EPA, 2005 )

2.2.4 River Basin Management Plans

In 2009, the RBMPs were finalized and implemented into each RBD. The RBMPs set out specific environmental aims to be achieved by December 2015. They identify the program of measured and the actions that will be taken in achieved these marks. They besides cover aims that are non set out in statute law but that are auxiliary steps in achieves the good H2O position. The competent authority for the execution of the RBMPs is the local governments. ( EPA, 2005 )

2.2.5 Monitoring Requirements

The monitoring demands are set out in the WFD. The monitoring of groundwater and surface-water commenced in 2007. They were assigned to several bureaus; EPA, Local Authorities, Marine Institute, Fisheries Boards, Waterways Ireland, OPW and NPWS.

The WFD layout 3 types of monitoring that is carried out on surface Waterss in order to accomplish and protect H2O organic structures. They are surveillance monitoring, operational monitoring and fact-finding monitoring. ( EPA, 2008 )

Surveillance Monitoring ( SM ) is to build an effectual program for all future monitoring programs, to measure long term alterations in natural conditions in order to find the non-natural and the natural alterations in an ecosystem and buttocks long term alterations as a consequence of the widespread anthropogenetic activity. It is besides the demand to supply supplementing and formalizing the impact assessment process detailed in Annex 11 of the Directive

Operational Monitoring ( OM ) is supervising of the countries that have been at hazard of neglecting to run into the environmental aims and find the position and to measure alterations in the H2O organic structure position that have resulted from programs of steps.

Fact-finding Monitoring ( IM ) is required in countries where the exceedance of environmental aims is unknown; it may be due to inadvertent pollution. And where surveillance monitoring indicates that the aims for an organic structure of H2O are improbable to be achieved and operational monitoring has non been established. ( Ferreira et al. , 2007 )

2.2.6 Surface Water Classification

The position is determined by an appraisal of ecological position, ecological potency and chemical position. Surface H2O are classified as High ( A ) , good ( A ) , moderate ( B ) , hapless ( C ) and bad ( D ) position. Water organic structures of high and good position are Class A Waterss as the H2O organic structure is accomplishing the WFD demands. These H2O organic structures have really small or no pollution. Moderate, hapless and bad position are underperforming and non go through the WFD demands. Pollution is present in these H2O organic structures. But aim to accomplish the good H2O position by 2015.

2.5 Water Quality Monitoring

2.3.1 Physical-Chemical Water Quality Monitoring

Physical-chemical monitoring four times a twelvemonth and is carried out to garner specific H2O quality features. The WFD requires monitoring of rivers for thermic conditions, oxygenation conditions, acidification position and alimentary conditions. The parametric quantities tested on river H2O include: pH, temperature, dissolved O, conduction, P, alkalinity and Suspended Solids. These trials help to place the beginnings of pollution for carry oning appraisals on ecological impacts. ( EPA, 2007 ) For Ireland the chief pollutants of concern are foods and oxygenation conditions as they cause issues such as eutrophication and organic pollution. ( EPA, 2011 )

There are three elements:

  1. General constituents ( Physico-chemical )quality elements are as specified in WFD Annex VIII ( 10 – 12 )
  2. Specific relevant pollutants are those identified by the Member States as being discharged in important measures; this is besides specified in WFD Annex VIII ( 1 - 9 ) , ’degree Celsius.
  3. Precedence substances are specified in WFD Annex X and for present intents the listing of precedence substances besides includes the unsafe substances as per the demands of WFD Annex IX’ ( EPA, 2007 )

General constituents are the scene of the Environmental Quality Standard Values for the high/good and good centrist position. Specific relevant pollutants refer to the directive for the scene of an individual EQS for each pollutant, failure to accomplish the EQS will ensue in non-run into the good H2O position. Priority substances every bit required by the WFD are putting an individual criterion that divides the chemical position of ‘good’ and neglecting to accomplish good’ . Failure in accomplishing any of the above criteria mentioned will ensue in non accomplishing the good chemical position by 2015. ( EPA, 2007 )

2.3.2 Biological Water Quality Monitoring

Biological monitoring is carried out one every 3 old ages on all rivers under the WFD. The biological quality elements measured are Phytoplankton, macrophytes, invertebrates and fish. For rivers of bad position, monitoring of macroinvertebrates is required to be carried out one time a twelvemonth lower limit.

Benthic invertebrates ( E.g. Mayflies, rock flies, runts and pelecypods etc. , ) are good ecological indexs of pollution as they are really sensitive to alterations in an ecosystem. E.g. Organic pollution. The community diverseness in an ecosystem will worsen in the presence of organic pollution. The more sensitive species are replaced by more tolerant invertebrates in the presence of high degrees of pollution. ( EPA, 2007 )

For the appraisal of Irish Rivers, macroinvertebrates have been divided into five index groups:

  • Group A, the sensitive signifiers
  • Group B, the less sensitive signifiers
  • Group C, the tolerant signifiers
  • Group D, the really tolerant signifiers 
  • Group E, the most tolerant forms

A Biotic Index is used, it is a quality index based on the composing and copiousness of invertebrates in a specific H2O organic structure. A Q value is applied and used to find the ecological position of the river. ( EPA, 2007 )

Biotic Index ( Q ) Status Boundary EQR value
Q5, Q4-5 High High /Good = 0.85

Good/Moderate = 0.75

Q4 Good
Q3-4 Moderate
Q3, Q2-3 Poor
Q2, Q1-2, Q1 Bad

Table 1: Biotic Indexs ( Q Values ) relation to the WFD position classs ( EPA, 2007 )

2.6 Water Pollutants

2.4.1 Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an indispensable food in surface Waterss for works and animate beings. Phosphorus is a food of short supply in most fresh waters. High degrees of P in surface Waterss can do accelerated growth of works and algae blooms. The accelerated growing can take to rapid O depletion or eutrophication of the H2O. This will go forth a H2O organic structure of low dissolved O so so it can non back up aquatic life, certain fish and invertebrates.

In all H2O classes across Ireland P degrees have started to demo a diminution. This could be due to the reduction of inorganic fertilizer applications, storage betterments of organic fertilizers and the rigorous prohibition of distributing periods covered in the Good Agricultural Practice Regulations and increased norm rainfall 2008 – 2009. ( Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government ( DECLG ) and the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Marine ( DAFM ) , 2013 )

In 2012, 85.4 % phosphate concentrations & A ; lt ; 0.05mg/L P and 2 % phosphate concentrations greater than 0.1 mg/L P. Overall the phosphate concentrations are worsening but the consequences are rather varied from twelvemonth to twelvemonth. ( Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government ( DECLG ) and the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Marine ( DAFM ) , 2013 )

2.4.2 Ammonia Nitrogen

Nitrogen exists in Waterss in four chief signifiers: organic N, ammonium hydroxide N, nitrite N and nitrate N. In uncontaminated surface Waterss ammonia N is typically present in the scope of 0.01 – 0.5 mg/L N. There will besides be low degrees of organic N, no nitrite and higher degrees of nitrate. In uncontaminated Waterss nitrate is the dominant signifier of N. ( Donohue, A. , Geraghty. O. , 2012 )

Elevated degrees of ammonium hydroxide in surface Waterss are unwanted as it is an indicant of organic pollution and increases oxygen demand. High degrees of ammonium hydroxide in surface Waterss are really toxic to fish life. ( Donohue, A. , Geraghty. O. , 2012 )

2.4.3 Nitrate Nitrogen

The Nitrates Directive ( 91/676/EEC ) was introduced in 1991 with the chief aim of diminishing H2O pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural beginnings. The presence of nitrate ( NO3- ) in surface H2O is normal at low degrees. Beginnings of nitrate are: rainfall, decomposition of dirt organic affair and fertilisers/manures. Datas from the period 2000-2003 detected that no surface H2O in Ireland had nitrate degrees & A ; gt ; 50mg/L. ( Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government ( DECLG ) and the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Marine ( DAFM ) , 2013 )

In recent old ages at that place has been a lessening in the mean nitrate concentrations across all H2O classs under the WFD. In 2012 71.5 % had nitrate concentrations & A ; lt ; 10mg/L NO3- , 1.3 % had concentrations & A ; gt ; 25mg/L NO3- . Overall nitrate concentrations have been worsening since 2007. ( Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government ( DECLG ) and the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Marine ( DAFM ) , 2013 )


  • Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government ( DECLG ) and the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Marine ( DAFM ), ( 2013 ).
  • 2nd Review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme. Ireland: Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government ( DECLG ) and the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Marine ( DAFM ) .
  • Donohue, A. , Geraghty. O. , Environmental Analysis 2 Laboratory Manual. Environmental Protection 2. ( 2012 )
  • EPA, ( 2005 ) . The Characterisation and Analysis of Ireland 's River Basin Districts. Irish republic: EPA.
  • EPA, ( 2007 ) . Proposed Quality Standards for Surface Water Classification. Water Framework Directive. Irish republic: EPA.
  • EPA, ( 2008 ) . The Water Framework Directive - A new direction attack. Ireland 's Environment. Irish republic: EPA.
  • Ferreira, J. , Vale, C. , Soares, C. , Salas, F. , Stacey, P. , Bricker, S. , Silva, M. and Marques, J. ( 2007 ) .
  • Monitoring of coastal and transitional Waterss under the E.U. Water Framework Directive. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 135 ( 1-3 ) , pp.195-216.
  • McGarrigle, M. , Lucey, J. and Cineide, M. ( 2011 ) . WATER QUALITY IN IRELAND 2007-2009. Wexford, Ireland: EPA.
  • Water Matters. ( 2007 ) . 1st erectile dysfunction. Shannon: CarbonNeutral.

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Review of Literature Related to River Water Quality in Ireland. (2017, Jul 08). Retrieved from

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