3,192 rivers are monitored regularly in Ireland as part of the national river monitoring program. This monitoring looks at the chemical composition of the river water or else looks at the small animals that live on the river bed. Some of these animals are very sensitive to pollution and so their abundance gives a very good indication of what the water quality has been like in the past.

1,330 (57%) monitored river water bodies are classified as being at 'high' or 'good' ecological status, 1,015 (43%) are classified as being 'less than good' ecological status. 

The static map below shows the ecological status of monitored river water bodies from 2010-2015. 

River Water Quality

River Water Quality
Courtesy EPA ©

Using this simple classification scheme the most recent survey published by the EPA in 2017, classifies Irish rivers as follows:

  • High Status: Unpolluted – 10.4% of river channel
  • Good Status: Unpolluted – 46.3% of river channel
  • Moderate Status: Slight pollution – 25.5% of river channel.
  • Poor status: Moderate pollution – 17.5% of river channel.
  • Bad Status: Seriously polluted – 0.3% of river channel.
The most economically developed parts of the country (east and north-east) are the most affected by water quality issues. 

See the current status of river water quality in Ireland by using the EPA interactive map viewer and choosing Water > Water Quality > River Q Values 1971-2016

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