The Issues

Ireland’s water environment is in crisis.

Water quality is declining and water pollution is rising at an unprecedented rate. Despite the requirement of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) that all our rivers, lakes, groundwater and coastal waters should be ecologically healthy by 2027, numerous EPA reports have highlighted ongoing declines in water quality.

Presently, more than half of our rivers, lakes and estuaries are in an unhealthy state (47%, 50% and 62% respectively) and river water pollution is on the rise. Furthermore, we’ve lost most of our pristine river stretches, down from over 500 in the late 80s to a mere 20 today. 

The lack of an integrated catchment-based approach to water management and the persistence of land use and other policies that are in direct conflict with the objectives of the WFD and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), pose enormous challenges to protecting and restoring our water and wetland environment.

SWAN works to raise awareness of this diverse range of pressures from human activity and to influence national policy so as to address these and secure maximum protection for Ireland’s aquatic resources.