Catchments.ie is a brand new website that will share science and stories about Ireland's 46 catchments, 583 subcatchments and 4829 waterbodies.
Water is a precious resource, and is essential for all life on earth. Managing our water so it can meet our current and future needs and also continue to support the ecosystems that depend on it is vital for Ireland’s future.
Managing our water requires us to investigate, understand and integrate a huge range of information and complete several key steps, including:
- characterisation and classification of our water bodies, to help us understand which ones are at risk;
- monitoring the status of these water bodies, and any trends in chemical or biological changes within them;
- looking at the geography and geology of an area; looking at how all the water bodies are connected both above and below ground and how the water flows from where it falls as rain to the sea;
- understanding how people are using the water, including drinking, agriculture, industrial use and bathing;
- establishing how people use the land and water bodies and what livelihoods are supported; and
- investigating possible sources of pollution, including urban waste water treatment plants and septic tanks; large industrial sites; and runoff from farming, forestry and landfills.
Integrated Catchment Management - what is it?
Effective management of water requires us to look at the pressures on our water resources at an appropriate scale - large enough that we can take account of all the relevant information, but small enough to ensure that people who live in the area can easily relate to it. Experience around the world and in Ireland has shown that an integrated approach to managing individual catchments of an appropriate scale is necessary to protect and improve water resources. A 'catchment' is simply defined as an area contributing water to a river and its tributaries, with all the water ultimately running off to a single outlet.
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) Explained
This piece of EU legislation has become a major driver for achieving sustainable management of water in Ireland and across the EU. Under this directive, all inland and coastal waters must reach ‘Good’ ecological status. ‘Good ecological status’ means achieving satisfactory quality water, suitable for local communities' drinking, bathing, agricultural, industrial and recreational needs, while maintaining ecosystems that can support all the species of plants, birds, fish and animals that live in these aquatic habitats.
A key part of the Water Framework Directive is Article 14, which requires all member states to genuinely engage with the people who live, work and play in a catchment. To do this, it is important to understand how local communities live in their catchments and use their water. Therefore, it is critical that local communities are involved in management and decision making related to protecting and, where necessary, improving their water resources.
Ultimately, meeting the objectives of the WFD is not the aim - helping communities protect and improve a beautiful and diverse landscape with accessible healthy waterways that are productively used to support livelihoods, habitats and rich wildlife is the goal. However, the WFD is a powerful tool to help in achieving this goal.
Calendar of Water Events in Ireland
If you would like your event added to this calendar, please email catchments(at)epa.ie