We in the Catchment Assessment Team of LAWPRO comprise 30 Catchment Scientists, one Blue Dot Scientist, five Catchments Managers and a Catchments Team Manager. We work throughout the five respective regions across the country: Border, Midlands & East, South East, South West and West. We cover a range of disciplines, e.g. ecology; hydrogeology and agricultural science within the wider environmental sciences sector.

Our role is to undertake scientific assessments in Priority Areas for Action (PAAs) across the country. These PAAs were selected because the waterbodies in these areas were ‘At Risk’ of not meeting their water quality objectives in the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD – 2000/60/EC). This targeted approach aims to restore water quality in these ‘At Risk’ waterbodies and help to ensure Ireland’s compliance with the WFD.

Our work often involves the identification of highly complex issues across a range of areas, which can affect water quality.

Referrals on the issues found are then made to these bodies e.g. if related to a Section 4 licenced premises, a landfill, forestry etc., or to the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) if related to agriculture. (More information on Our Catchment Work can be found here)

Progress updates, case study presentation, update on referrals, progress reports from ASSAP, collaborative projects with others are provided to the five Regional Operational Committees and discussed at the associated Regional Water & Environmental Management Committees. This promotes collaboration amongst the respective Local Authorities and other stakeholders and implementing bodies.

Where potential measures are not readily available to allow solutions to be put in place by the implementation body or landowner, the WFD three-tiered governance structures are then utilised. This allows these issues to be progressed to the National Technical Implementation Group (NTIG) for further consideration. From here, matters can be escalated to the Water Policy Advisory Committee (WPAC) where they can help inform revisions to national policy and legislation and ensure the evidence-based science is widely shared. (Further information/overview on our water governance structures can be found here)

The Catchment Assessment Team are however only a single cog in the wheel that is the larger ongoing effort to restore and protect water quality in Ireland. This collaborative approach is dependent on the continued efforts of Local Authorities and various other national and regional stakeholders and agencies.