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Essay On IRISH Water Framework Directive


In the early 1990s, there was a rising concern over environmental protection, controlling pollution, and countries were implementing an ecosystem approach to handle the environmental issues with the combination of natural resources and social sciences (Kaika, 2003).

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) mainly provides a new approach for improving and protecting the water resources along with the aquatic ecosystems. It protects through a system of participatory river basin management planning supported through new assessment and monitoring programs (Bennion and Battarbee, 2007).

This essay focused on evaluating the Irish Water framework directive implemented in Europe, aiming to create the framework for actions regarding water policy by the community. WFD also facilitates European countries in establishing a framework for the protection of the inland surface, transitional, coastal, and groundwater.


Implementation of the EU water framework directive was regulated in 2003 in Irish legislation. New and specific functions were assigned to the concerned minister, EPA, and the competent authorities. Coordination of WFD related issues and activities were provided to Ireland authorities by the EPA.

Eight River Basin Districts were established on the north and south islands of Ireland. The implementation of RBDs was done in consultation with the competent authorities of Ireland and all parties concerned. The graph below explains the current rate regarding the improvement of water quality in Irish Rivers for meeting the objective of Good Status.

Figure 1: Current Rate for Improvement of Water Quality

Source: Epa. i.e. (2018)

Seven RBDs were formed in different areas of the South, which includes areas across the borders. One additional RBD was established internally in Northern Ireland. The table presented below explains the milestones for the implementation of WFD (EC, 2008).

Figure 2:  Milestone of WFD Implementation

Source: EC (2008)

The environment department, Local government, and Heritage had promoted the competent authorities to establish the water management projects of all inland, coastal, and groundwater effectively. The national development Plan provided the funding to authorities for the implementation of the projects.

All stakeholders were promoted to take measures for the improvement of water management. According to Epa. i.e. (2018), WFD aims to protect all waters, including rivers, lakes, coastal waters, and transitional waters that are directly dependent on the aquatic ecosystem. The figure below explains the protection process of WFD,

Figure 3: Hydrological Cycle

Irish inner inland surface water needs to be implementing enhanced mitigation actions to achieve the desired objectives of the WFD (Daly et al., 2016). Waters that are considered good in Ireland should be managed to control their quality for a long time, and measures should be taken to improve the quality of poor status water. Water pollution arises from industrial waste and agricultural and forestry activities on land.

Modification of waterways is a concern for competent authorities. Some measures effectively modify waterways, such as proper drainage systems for land used for agriculture, River construction, dams for water reserves, and the development of ports (Bennion and Battarbee, 2007).

These artificial modifications can affect the habitats and natural flow of waterways. Results of these modifications can be the reduction of biodiversity, rare and scarce species, and extinction of some types of habitats (Earle and Almeida, 2010).

The WFD is a very effective directive in managing water in European countries (Doody et al., 2012). It is also providing integrated platforms for the countries which have implemented that policy. This directive emphasizes the importance of ecological and socio-economic aspects in the management of water resources. In the early process of decision making public information and consultation is helpful in the management of water resources.

This policy initiative provides a great opportunity for Ireland to better manage water resources (Kaika, 2003). Cultural and environmental barriers are important to manage to the efficient implementation of the policy. The main problem is surface water is eutrophication, which is about the abundant growth of the tree and these trees are excessively using the water resources (Bennion and Battarbee, 2007).

70.2% rivers provide good quality water in Ireland and pollution level is decreasing at a rate of 0.6%. Changing climate globally will be creating a problem in the achievement of the objective of the WFD of Ireland (Earle and Almeida, 2010).


WFD is an effective policy for many countries of Europe to manage water resource. It is also useful for Ireland as it has been implemented on the 8 rivers of the country. There are certain challenges incomplete implementation of WFD such as climate change, cultural and attitudes of people, and excessive water usage in agriculture and other industrial production. However, Effective policy and implementation can reduce the impacts of these factors and WFD of Ireland can work more efficiently in managing water resources.


Bennion, H. and Battarbee, R., 2007. The European Union water framework directive: opportunities for palaeolimnology. Journal of Paleolimnology, 38(2), pp.285-295.

Daly, D., Deakin, J., Craig, M. and Mockler, E.M., 2016, April. Progress in implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Ireland. In International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)(Irish Group) Sustaining Ireland’s Water Future: The Role of Groundwater, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland, 12-13 April 2016.

Directive, WF, 2000. Water Framework Directive. Common Implementation.

Doody, D.G., Archbold, M., Foy, R.H. and Flynn, R., 2012. Approaches to implementing the Water Framework Directive: targeting mitigation measures at critical source areas of diffuse phosphorus in Irish catchments. Journal of environmental management, 93(1), pp.225-234.

Earle, R. and Almeida, G., 2010. EU Water Framework Directive-River Basin Management Planning in Ireland. Environmental Engineering Research, 15(2), pp.105-109. 2018. The Water Framework Directive of Ireland [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Oct. 2018].

Hering, D., Borja, A., Carstensen, J., Carvalho, L., Elliott, M., Feld, C.K., Heiskanen, A.S., Johnson, R.K., Moe, J., Pont, D. and Solheim, A.L., 2010. The European Water Framework Directive at the age of 10: a critical review of the achievements with recommendations for the future. Science of the total Environment, 408(19), pp.4007-4019.

Kaika, M., 2003. The Water Framework Directive: a new directive for a changing social, political and economic European framework. European Planning Studies, 11(3), pp.299-316.