EPA QUBE hydrological assessment tool



Majority of sensors are EPA or OPW

Irish Water sensors not on the map ? eg sensors on Vartry ?




How is hydromorphology addressed in river conservation projects, eg in this example within the EU funded LIFE projects?

Hydromorphology is a relatively new discipline which is described in the Water Framework Directive. It refers to the physical character of the river and includes the flow of water in the river, the course the river takes or the form and shape of the river channel.

It stems from the term ‘fluvial geomorphology’, a subject that focuses on the processes of water and sediment movement and the features that these processes create in a river such as pools, riffles and glides. These processes and features create and maintain habitats for invertebrates, fish and plants.

Hydromorphology pressures are anything that impacts negatively on the form or flow of the a river, for example: weirs and dams which may impede fish passage; drainage works which straighten and deepen the channel and thereby damage important habitat features for aquatic species and soil or bank erosion which can cause siltation of the river bed.

Changes to the hydromorphological characteristics of surface waters is estimated to be a significant pressure in almost 29% of high status objective waterbodies that are At Risk of not meeting their environmental objectives. It is the most prevalent significant pressure within high surface objective water bodies.

Two of the catchments selected within the €20 million Waters of LIFE project deal with hydromorphology

River name: The Shournagh

Water Framework Directive Reference: Lee SC 060

Location: Co Cork (near Tower and Blarney)

Significant Pressures: Agriculture, Hydromorphology, domestic wastewater, urban runoff, OPW Area for Action

River name: The Awbeg

Water Framework Directive Reference: Blackwater SC 060

Location: Co. Cork (Near Kanturk)

Significant Pressures: Agriculture, Hydromorphology

Gap Analysis Interim Briefing Note

Source: EPA

This interim briefing note has been prepared by the EPA Catchments Unit for DHLGH. The aim of this interim briefing note is to provide an overview of the number of waterbodies that are impacted by activities relevant to DAFM, and to highlight the issues (e.g. P, N, sediment) that measures must target to improve water quality and meet Water Framework Directive (WFD) environmental objectives. Assuming all necessary measures are implemented, the note also provides a projection on the number of waterbodies where water quality can be improved and also the number of waterbodies where these measures will lead to waterbodies achieving their environmental objective.

As the note is an interim note, and the analysis is based on draft characterisation data and draft Pollution Impact Potential maps, some values may change, but overall the document provides a general overview of the extent of action that is required and what this action can achieve.

This note focuses on three distinct sections relevant to DAFM: Agriculture, Forestry and Land drainage/Channelisation

Heavily Modified Water Body Designations: Peatland

Why are heavily modified waterbodies on peatland not included?

The EPA review considers the following specified uses:

  • Water storage and regulation (i.e. major impounding structures such as dams and reservoirs);
  • Flood protection;
  • The urban environment;
  • Arterial drainage;
  • Navigation

It does not appear to directly consider heavily modified water bodies in the context of peatland drainage schemes and/or peatland rehabilitation schemes

Please note two IFI submissions on BnM hydromorphological conditions which do address the issues:

Correspondence between BnM and DAFM suggest that the main heavily modified water bodies will not be remediated as part of the current PCAS programme – the programme is very much aimed at improving water chemistry, not restoring the modified watercourses. This is only addressing half the problem, heavily modified waterbodies on peatland cannot support life.

Peatland pressures are listed in EPA data, but there does not appear to be a process in place similar to LAWPRO to ASSAP Ag Referrals to address those peatland pressures. In fact, the overall enforcement regime for peatland drainage is unclear, and unlicensed drainage/unlicensed peat extraction occurs at the same time on the same sites. There are ongoing issues with digging drainage for peat extraction on SACs, and drainage for peat extraction on sites that are hydrologically connected to SACs.

Broadford Priority Area for Action Desktop Report


April 2019

WFD App lists hydromorphology as the significant pressure

Water quality impact on Broadford is confined to a 1km stretch upstream of Scotts Bridge


Land use and soil type indicate that the significant issue is sediment. The significant pressure is hydromorphology – channelisation: evidence of deepening and straightening.

Potential issue with quarry


Athy Stream: Silt, Sediment and River Restoration Project

Athy Stream: Widespread sediment issues have been identified.

Ongoing work by ASSAP may help reduce the amount of new sediment entering the stream.

However, this will not resolve issues with historic sediment and possible impacts from historical straightening of the channel. There may be need for additional restoration work on this river, however as yet there is no framework for river restoration measures in these scenarios.

These works can be expensive.

No AFA report on catchments.ie

No LAWPRO desktop report publsihed to date

Controlled Activities for the Protection of Waters

“The D/HLGH proposes to ‘develop a new Controlled Activities for the Protection of Waters regime to address pressures on the physical condition of waters’ which will establish a new legislative framework that all parties including private landowners and public authorities such as the OPW will be obliged to comply with.” Feb 2022

No additional information available

Failmore Priority Area for Action Desktop Report

Aug 2020


Evidence of Arterial Drainage: No Scheme or District but there is evidence of arterial drainage.

There is no arterial drainage scheme present. From viewing the GeoHive map there would appear to new channels opened since the 1800s, straightening and constructing new channels in order to join up existing river channel to drain the adjacent lands

The generation of sediment loss from land drainage, bank erosion and peat extraction.

Several land drains in the upper reaches of the river that would be transporting sediment to the main channel of the waterbody

Hydromorphology (Overgrazing) is noted as a significant pressure in the Failmore_010, with altered habitat due to morphological changes as the impact. Overgrazing of commonage areas was a significant issue in the late 90s/early 2000s, and Commonage Framework Plans were introduced to resolve significant issues. However, there could still be still isolated problems with overgrazing in the commonage areas of Connemara, but likely not at the same extent as previously seen.

There are no derogation farms in the PAA and the nitrogen per hectare is 30kg/H is the PAA which is low

With the peat cutting areas there are peatland drains, therefore the sediment from the peatland is being transported from the peatland to the river via these drains

Castlegar Priority Area for Action Desktop Report

May 2020



The Mountbellew Drainage district is present in this waterbody. Information taken from the WFD app suggests that HYMO is having an impact on the Castlegar_010 ecological status.

The IFI reported issues with management of the drainage districts – untrained drivers who don’t provide plans to fisheries. During the 2014 survey the EPA biologists noted that the river had been resectioned/over-deepened.

The river would appear to be very straight and there are a number of land drains feeding into the main channel

Number of livestock crossing points and drinking points

Mountbellew and Moylough WWTP discharges

Note: Bord Na Mona are not maintaining the silt traps near the Shiven River.