Report Reveals Many Irish Rivers Are in Poor Health

Irish Rivers

Report Reveals Many Irish Rivers Are in Poor Health

According to the 2024 State of Our Rivers report, nearly half of all Irish rivers are below good ecological health standards. The report highlights the extent of the problem, key sectors harming water quality, and the importance of urgent actions. 

 

The River Trust’s Irish Report

The Rivers Trust is an environmental charity concerned with rivers in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Its ‘State of Our Rivers’ report provides a detailed analysis of river health. 2024 marks the first time data from Ireland, and Northern Ireland has been included in the report. Significant concerns have been raised in light of the report’s findings. 

 

Some Key Findings in Irish Rivers

Ecological Health Status

Ecological health refers to the overall health of the river based on water quality parameters (such as pH, dissolved oxygen, and nutrient levels). Just over half of Irish rivers reported ‘good’ or ‘high’ ecological health status. Nearly 20% are in ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ condition. Rivers fared far worse in terms of ecological health compared to any of our other water bodies. 

Ecological health

 

Biological Health Status

Biological health takes into account the health of things like the aquatic plants, fish, insects and other invertebrates that live in the water. Only 39% of rivers across Ireland reached ‘good’ or ‘high’ biological standards. 

Shortcomings in Chemical Monitoring 

Checking for chemicals in rivers was targeted only around areas where pollution was more likely. As a result, 94% of rivers in Ireland were not assessed for chemicals. Additionally, 60% of the 193 rivers that were surveyed failed to meet acceptable standards for chemicals.

 

What is Harming Irish Rivers 

With ~ 50% of all rivers in Ireland below good ecological health standards, it is essential to understand why these waters are suffering. The graph below highlights activities negatively impacting rivers and the number of rivers affected by each. Agriculture is the leading pressure on our rivers, affecting nearly 63%. Altering river shape or flow (hydromorphology), forestry, and urban pollution also have significant negative impacts. 

River pressures

 

The Response to the Concerning State of Irish Rivers

The director of The Rivers Trust All-Ireland, Mark Horton, has said: 

“This report is an alarm bell… we need to take collective action now if we want to improve and protect this vital freshwater resource that we all depend on and avert a crisis.” 

Despite the current state of our rivers, Horton remains optimistic: 

“As this report shows, almost all the pressures negatively impacting our rivers… are caused by human activities, and it is, therefore, within our gift to reverse some of these impacts.”

 

Conclusion for the State of Irish Rivers 

Considering agriculture is the primary stressor of river water quality, focusing on this sector is a good place to start. The €60 million Farming for Water project shows the Irish government’s commitment to improve water quality. Southern Scientific is also committed to achieving good water quality across Irish rivers. We provide environmental monitoring, consultancy, and planning services to help clients tackle water pollution. 

 

Follow the link to get a quote for your project and help improve Irish rivers today! 

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