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1. The state of Ireland's water environment - Micheal Lehane, EPA

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This presentation was given on 17 July 2020 as part of the EPA's online Water Conference by Micheál Lehane, EPA Office of Evidence and Assessment.

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1. The state of Ireland's water environment - Micheal Lehane, EPA

  1. 1. The State of Ireland’s Water Environment EPA Water Event 2020 17th June Dr Micheál Lehane Photo: Neasa McDonnell
  2. 2. Introduction  Latest assessment on water quality 2013-2018  2019 indicators – initial results  Nutrient trends and agriculture  Finding the right measures
  3. 3. Water Quality in Ireland 2013-2018 Water body type % Satisfactory (high or good) Change since 2015 Rivers 53% 5.5% decline Lakes 50% 4.3% improvement Estuaries 38% Stable Coastal 80% Stable Groundwater 92% 1% improvement Canals 87% Stable Overall only 53% of surface waterbodies were satisfactory Our freshwaters and estuaries are in trouble
  4. 4. 12.9 43.8 27.1 14.8 1.4 10.8 44.6 26.7 16.9 1.1 8.5 44.2 28.3 17.9 1.0 0.0 5.0 10.0 15.0 20.0 25.0 30.0 35.0 40.0 45.0 50.0 High Good Moderate Poor Bad (%)Percentage 2007-2009 (2503) 2010-2015 (2693) 2013-2018 (2703) Trend since 2007 (surface waterbodies) 2007-2009 is WFD baseline – protect and restore
  5. 5. Rivers ecological status 2013-2018 • Overall 53% are in satisfactory status (down from 60% in 2010-2012) • High status WBs • Poor status WBs • Bad sites ‘red dots’ increased from 6 to 9 sites • Net decline of 128 RWBs since 2010-2015 (5.5%) 287 324 245 196 972 1045 1085 1051 549 560 597 656 333 338 412 443 19 11 6 9 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 2007 - 2009 River Water Bodies (n = 2160) 2010 - 2012 River Water Bodies (n = 2278) 2010 - 2015 River Water Bodies (n = 2345) 2013 - 2018 River Water Bodies (n=2355) % number River water bodies High Good Moderate Poor Bad
  6. 6. 13 22 2 Ecological status of 37 HSO lake waterbodies High Good Moderate Poor Bad 140 155 18 5 1 Ecological status of 319 HSO river waterbodies High status objective (HSO) waterbodies 4 6 1 Ecological status of the 11 HSO transitional water bodies 7 9 Ecological Status of the 16 HSO coastal waterbodies 44% at high status 36% at high status 35% at high status 44% at high status
  7. 7. Some good news – 2019 Q values 204 – improved 90 – declined Increase in high and good Q values since 2016-2018 River Q values 2019 NB….Q is not status and it’s only 1 year of 3 year cycle Rate of decline in some catchments could offset improvements
  8. 8. More good news…priority areas for action River WBs in PAAs 2013-2018 303 - no change 132 - improved 51 - declined Net improvement of 16.7% River Q values in PAAs 2017-2019 389 - no change 74 - improved 22 – declined Net improvement of 10.7% Early signs that the PAA approach is delivering improvements
  9. 9. River nitrate changes River phosphorus changes The bad news: nutrients 2013-2018
  10. 10. Nitrate levels in groundwater Increasing percentage of groundwater bodies with elevated nitrate levels – risk to drinking water supplies and water quality
  11. 11. Nutrient inputs to the marine environment Loading of Total N to the marine environment increased by 8,806 tonnes (16%) (3 year average 2016-2018 vs 2012-2014) Loading of Total P to marine environment increased by 329 tonnes (31%) (3 year average 2016-2018 vs 2012-2014)
  12. 12. Agriculture and wastewater are two major pressures and biggest source of nutrients Significant Pressures
  13. 13. Nitrogen emissions to water from agriculture
  14. 14. … ∙ Derogation Farms Monitored catchments where nitrogen losses from agriculture cause water quality problems Catchments with excessive nitrogen losses to estuaries and coastal waters Monitored catchments where nitrogen losses are not a concern Regional nitrogen issues South & southeast – double the losses of N compared to west Impact seen on groundwater & estuaries Agriculture is the main source.
  15. 15. Targeted Agriculture Measures Measures to reduce phosphorus and sediment loss On poorly draining soils - breaking the pathway between farm runoff and the receiving waters. Measures to reduce nitrogen losses On freely draining soils – improved nutrient management, clover, reduction of chemical N The right measure in the right place Tailored messaging for farmers
  16. 16. Conclusion Our water quality is under pressure Failing to halt declines is making the challenge of meeting our WFD targets more difficult Our high status waters are severely impacted and need to be protected urgently Early signs are that work in prioritised areas for action is delivering improvements We need to reverse the trends in nutrient discharges by getting the right measure in the right place
  17. 17. Thank you Photo: Ruth Little

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