The EPA Catchments Unit have released an Assessment of catchments that need reductions in nitrates in preparation for the 3rd RBMP
In preparation for the 3rd RBMP cycle, the EPA have carried out analysis to identify catchments where nitrogen concentrations are too high to support healthy aquatic ecosystems or good ecological status as identified by the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Catchments with high concentrations put estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater at risk.
Key findings include:
There are a number of catchments of concern with resulting elevated nitrogen concentrations in the south, south east and east coasts including the Maigue/Deel, Bandon, Lee, Blackwater, Nore, Suir, Barrow, Slaney, Tolka/Liffey and the Boyne river catchments.
Nitrogen concentrations in waters have been increasing since 2013, and all but one of the catchments of concern showed increasing trends in the amount of nitrogen discharging to the sea.
85% of the sources of nitrogen in the catchments are agriculture from chemical and organic fertiliser. In the Liffey/Tolka the primary source is urban wastewater.
This load needs to be reduced. Maps have been developed that show the critical source areas for nitrogen. These are high risk areas in the landscape (with predominately sandy soils) where nitrogen leaches to waters. Measures need to be targeted in these critical source areas to deliver maximum environmental benefits.
The types of actions required of the agricultural sector to reduce the load is currently being considered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with support from Teagasc.
REPORT can be accessed here: