Waters of LIFE project (Euro20m across six catchments)

The total budget under this LIFE Integrated project is €20,369,805 of which €9,500,000 has been committed by the European Union


Lee_SC_060 Sub Catchment (Shournagh)

The sub catchment has an area of approximately 130km2.  Three of the five sub basins which make up the sub catchment have a high status objective, with the other two inputting into these and so potentially impacting on their status.

None of the three high status objective water bodies in this sub catchment are currently meeting their objective: one has fallen to good status and two to moderate status in the last monitoring cycle.  All three are considered to be at risk of not meeting their objectives under the River Basin Management Plan.

The significant pressures which have been identified on these water bodies are: agriculture, hydromorphology, urban waste water, domestic waste water and urban runoff.

Soils in this catchment are free draining, which is somewhat unusual in the context of high status objective rivers.  The pollution impact potential (PIP) maps produced by the EPA show very high PIP for nitrate and very low PIP for phosphorus.

Blackwater_SC_060 Sub Catchment (Awbeg)

This is the sub catchment of a river called the Awbeg (but not the one that flows through Buttevant) which rises to the South of Liscarroll in Co. Cork and flows Southwards to join the main channel of the Blackwater East of Banteer also in Co. Cork.

The catchment has an area of approx. 80km².  Both the water bodies that make up the demonstration catchment have a high status objective. However, one has fallen to good status for the last two monitoring cycles, the other is not monitored, but has recently been assigned a predicted status of high by the EPA.

The geology in the area is quite mixed consisting of sandstone, mudstone and karst areas. Large areas have locally and regionally important aquifers.  Soil drainage is also mixed with both well and poorly draining areas and generally acid mineral soils. Diffuse pollution pathways are similarly mixed with surface runoff in poorly draining areas, shallow to deep subsurface flow in areas of well draining soils depending on the fracturing of bedrock or presence of karst and potential for direct inputs via karst features.

The significant pressures in this area are agriculture and hydromorphology. The catchment has a mix of areas which are considered high pollution impact for both phosphorus and nitrate.

Suck_SC_020 Catchment (The Island River)

The sub catchment has an area of approximately 145km2. Of the seven water bodies in this sub catchment, only one has a high status objective. However, five of the remaining are upstream of this waterbody and therefore activities in these sub basins have the potential to impact on it.  The high status objective waterbody is currently failing to meet its objective and has fallen to good status in the last two monitoring cycles.  It is considered to be at risk of failing to meet the high status objective which has been set for it in the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland.

The significant pressure on the high status objective water body is reported as urban waste water, but agriculture and hydromorphology are significant pressures in some of the upstream waterbodies.

There are areas of high pollution impact for phosphorus in the sub catchment along with a high proportion of peat soils.

Graney_SC_010 Sub Catchment

Of the eight water bodies in the Graney_010 sub catchment only three have a high status objective and only one is currently meeting its objective. The other two have fallen to good status and are considered to be failing to meet their objective under the River Basin Management Plan.

Blanket peat mainly overlies the sedimentary geology in this catchment. It is these peatlands that help regulate climate, control and purify water flows as well as supporting terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. However, protection and in some instances, restoration is required to maintain the quality of these services.

The significant pressures in the catchment are forestry and agriculture. This catchment was chosen in consultation with Coillte and the Forest Service as there is likely to be significant forestry activity in the area during the life of the project.  This will allow appropriate management strategies for high status areas to be developed.

Avonmore_SC_010 sub catchment

The sub catchment has an area of 141km2 and is made up of six water bodies.  It captures all the streams, rivers and lakes that form headwaters to the Avonmore River. It starts in northeast parts of the Wicklow Mountains with Cloghoge and Inchavore Rivers that flow through Lough Tay and Lough Dan to form the Avonmore River. The river then flows south through Annamoe village down to Laragh village, where it meets Glenmacnass River that also rose in the Wicklow Mountains.

Two of the water bodies that make up the sub catchment are are Blue Dot rivers: Avonmore_010 and Avonmore_020, and have a high status objective. Both have fallen to good status and are considered to be at risk of not meeting their objective under the River Basin Management Plan.  Historically these rivers have been at high ecological status which means they have the potential to achieve and maintain high conditions. With the change down to good ecological status we know that these rivers are at stress and need action for the restoration. However, it should also be noted that a third waterbody in the sub catchment has improved to high status and has been high during two monitoring cycles.

The significant pressures in the catchment are forestry and agriculture. This catchment was chosen in consultation with Coillte and the Forest Service as there is likely to be significant forestry activity in the area during the life of the project and will allow appropriate management strategies for high status areas to be developed.

Note: the Sheen is flagged by the project not at risk, and is included as a control

Sheen_SC_010 Sub Catchment

This sub catchment has an area of 100.5 km2.  There are four waterbodies that make up the Sheen_SC_010 sub catchment, three of which have been given a high-status objective under the Water Framework Directive. It is important that high status is maintained and that there is no decline in water quality or status.  The majority of the sub catchment is at high status and is considered to be not at risk of failing to meet its River Basin Management Plan objective.

The soil type across most of the sub catchment is poorly draining peat and mineral soils, overlying relatively poorly productive bedrock. Better draining soils can be found on the lower slopes and lower lying areas in the river valleys of the Sheen River and its tributaries.

As part of the Waters of LIFE Project, the Sheen River sub catchment has been chosen as a ‘control’ catchment and will be used to explore the protect function.  The focus here will be on understanding how high status is currently being maintained and to identify any potential threats to water quality and status through field surveys and monitoring.  In this sub catchment, the project will: monitor water quality; monitor land use change and; raise awareness of the importance of high status water bodies.

Areas for Action (2018-2021): Missing Reports on Catchments.ie

Area For Action Reports are short desk based assessments.

It is unclear why so many catchments have no published reports, as the timeframe for reporting was 2018-2021. The reports are precursor to a Full Desktop Study.

Some of the Deskstop Studies are published on LAWPRO site here published here: https://lawaters.ie/desktop-studies/



Owveg (Nore)


Finn (Donegal)

Athy Stream


St Johnstons


Lower Nenagh and Claree

Inch (Bilboa)

Powerstown – Duiske





Wexford Coastal Lagoons

Upper Funshion

Santry River








Dargle and Carrickmines

Bregagh (Kilkenny)



Wexford Harbour


Owenmore Templehouse Lake

Owengarve Charlestown

Nephin Beg Owengarve

Lough Gur

Little Brosna


Inchiquin and Atedaun Lakes



Castlebar Lannagh


Brownstown (Pococke)


Blackwater (Wexford)

Bandon Estuary




Source: https://www.catchments.ie/data/#/areaforaction?_k=ziym91

Tender: EPA 2021 RIVERNET PILOT – to create a fully connected river network for a pilot WFD Catchment (Suir)

The EPA Catchments Unit is tendering for contractor support to develop an automated/manual process to create a fully connected river network for a pilot WFD Ireland catchment which will also include the generation of an associated geometric network. The output will be used for producing and improving various modelling tools used within catchment assessments and across the wider EPA for other activities.

The output will also be used by other external stakeholders with an interest in the water environment.

Allow Project – Duhallow Farming for Blue Dot Catchments

Main funding sourceRural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)
Project typeOperational group
Starting date2019
End date2023

This project aims to restore the high ecological status of the River Allow, a high-status objective waterbody in an agricultural catchment in Duhallow, Co Cork.

The objectives are to:

Restore &; protect the high status river through integrated catchment management.

Deliver a results-based payment scheme for farmers.

Implement actions designed to improve water quality, restore habitats, enhance biodiversity &; reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Develop an on-farm citizen science approach with farmers.

Increase community knowledge &; appreciation.

Inform national policy &; best practice.

Up to 100 farmers will participate in enhancing and restoring freshwater and terrestrial habitats on their farms. Farm specific management plans will be developed in close association with the farmer; including measures designed to improve water quality, enhance biodiversity and reduce GHGs. Measures will be based on the source-pathway-receptor model, reducing contaminants at source, intercepting them before reaching the river and restoring impacted habitats. A results-based payment system will reward participating farmers for improving & maintaining the nature value of their farms. Knowledge exchange programmes will empower farmers & increase environmental awareness.

The River Allow is part of the Blackwater SAC, designated for the conservation of freshwater habitats &; species. It is a high status objective river as defined by the Water Framework Directive. Agriculture is a significant pressure in the catchment &; the river is considered to be at risk of not achieving its high status objective. The protection of high status rivers is a national priority &; the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland proposes the “Blue Dot” programme as a measure to provide a structure towards their conservation &; management. The Allow Project will pilot the Blue Dot programme, developing an integrated catchment management system appropriate for agricultural catchments &; inform policy.

Additional information: 

The project proposes to take a farmer-focused approach following a rural development model, which provides the framework for both practical support on the ground coupled with farmer-led knowledge exchange. Key to this will be the involvement of farmers who have already participated in agri-environment schemes, conservation programmes (e.g. EU LIFE) &; research programmes relevant to high status waters. Building on learned experience &; knowledge exchange the project will develop an integrated catchment management model for the implementation of the Blue Dot programme in agricultural regions

Expected benefits include:

•          Integrated catchment approach involving all actors in the protection of Blue Dot catchments with farmers centre stage.

•          A results-based farmer-led strategy &; suite of suitable measures developed for the restoration of high status rivers in agricultural catchments.

•          Economic security in sustainable agriculture through a results based payment scheme.

•          Improvement in water quality within the targeted objective high status sites.

•          Enhanced biodiversity value of farmland habitats and promotion of high nature value farming.

•          Improved conservation status of the Blackwater SAC.

•          Better energy &; nutrient management with reduction of greenhouse gas &; nutrient emissions.

•          Practical guidance &; knowledge enhancement for policy makers, agencies and stakeholders.

•          Greater community appreciation and knowledge of the importance of high status rivers.

•          Farmers trained as citizen scientists &; empowered to make sustainable choices in agricultural practices.

•          Certification for agricultural contractors who uphold the Blue Dot standard for farming in high status catchments.

Additional comments: 

The measures of the Allow Project are intended to protect watercourses from farm-related pollution with the overarching aim being to protect and, where necessary, restore the high status of the Allow catchment. Following the source-pathway-receptor continuum, a variety of measures will be implemented to reduce sediment and nutrients at source, intercept mobile contaminants and restore river habitats. In order to monitor the effectiveness of these individual measures and the overall impact of the project on catchment status, a combination of biological and physiochemical monitoring approaches combined with a citizen science initiative will be implemented. A number of strategically selected monitoring locations will be established within the catchment in order to gather the necessary baseline data. Annual monitoring at the selected locations will take place in order to assess any longitudinal changes in catchment status over the course of the project. Parameters measured will include water quality, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plants, birds, fish and terrestrial biodiversity such as pollinators. This will be complimented by a citizen science initiative where participating farmers will be trained in monitoring the effectiveness of their actions.

Contact person: Maura Walsh

Address: IRD Duhallow, James O’Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co. Cork.

E-mail: Maura.walsh@irdduhallow.com

Phone: +353 (029) 60633

Mulkear EIP-Innovation, Technology & KT for Farmer Led Enhancement of Water Quality, Instream Habitat and Riparian Management in the Mulkear Catchment

Total budget: 1,172,830 Euro

Main funding sourceRural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)
Project typeOperational group
Starting date2019
End date2023
Project statusOngoing

Objective of the project: 

Deliver a catchment sensitive approach to farming in a catchment ‘At Risk’, by working with farmers to bring about improvements in water quality, riparian management and instream habitat. The project will:

-Build capacity of farmers to identify and mitigate agricultural impacts on water quality through practical on-farm measures and shared learning.

-Deliver a locally-led, collaborative, partnership model to enable partners collectively identify key water quality concerns, with farmers central in the co-design, development and implementation of measures.

-Celebrate the Mulkear via community outreach work based on improving local water quality, biodiversity and riparian management.

Description of activities

– Develop a model of collaborative working to identify key water quality concerns.

– Develop and deliver a tailored Catchment Sensitive Farming training programme.

– Achieve a real collaborative partnership through the co-design of a suite of farm measures.

– Complete detailed local catchment assessments and develop baseline data for monitoring.

– Undertake detailed farm risk assessments to ensure the right measure in the right place.

– Share best practice and communicate widely via Digital Story Telling, local volunteers, and an award system to recognise farmers and local river champions.

– Develop a community outreach programme to improve water quality, biodiversity and riparian management.

Contact person: Carol Quish

Address: Greanmore House, Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick.

E-mail: carol@mulkeareip.com

Phone: +353 (0)83 1044609