The Water Framework Directive has several objectives. One is to prevent deterioration of the status of all surface waters. This means that water bodies that are High Status should not decline to Good Status or worse. The EPA have identified the waters in Ireland that should have a high status objective, and these are more commonly known as Blue Dot waters or Blue Dots. Our Blue Dot Waters include rivers, lakes, estuaries, and coastal waters

To access spatial data on high status objective waters, click here (

Blue Dot waters that are achieving their high status objective contain a diverse community of plants and animals that are very sensitive to pollution such as Stoneflies, Mayflies, Freshwater Pearl Mussels and the Slender Naiad.

Blue Dot waters that are not achieving their high status objective will generally have a poorer diversity of macroinvertebrates. In rivers where Fresh water Pearl Mussels are present, the recruitment of juvenile mussels will be significantly affected where pristine water is not maintained.

Why are Blue Dot waters special?

Blue Dot waters are our best quality waters. They have the highest ecological quality of all our waters and often a greater diversity of species that are sensitive to pollution.

Blue Dot waters have a natural physical form that has not been changed much by human activities. For example, they are not physically altered by straightened of the river channel or by the presence of bank stabilisation through hard engineering.

High status waters very often serve as tributaries and headwaters for larger downstream water bodies. This location in the catchment means that high status headwaters have a positive effect on downstream water bodies.

They can also serve as an ark where sensitive species survive during pollution events and can then recolonise the polluted water downstream when it is restored. This is due to the connectivity in water catchments where water moves from the headwaters downstream to the coastal waters.

Of course, the opposite can also happen. Many of our Blue Dots are coastal water bodies that could be impacted by rivers up stream that are not Blue Dots themselves. It is always important that the connectivity of catchments is considered.