10.1.8 Water Quality

Dúnta22 Nol, 2020, 09:00 - 12 Már, 2021, 17:00
10.1.8 Water Quality Water Framework Directive

In response to the increasing threat of pollution, physically damaging activities and the increasing demand from the public for cleaner rivers, lakes and beaches, the EU developed the Water Framework Directive (WFD). This Directive establishes a framework for the protection of all waterbodies for the benefit of everyone, in terms of water quality and quantity.  The protection of water for wildlife and their habitats is also included under the Directive.  

Management of water resources must be planned and implemented, through national River Basin Management Plans which set standards on what each EU member state must achieve.  These water quality road maps aim to achieve the best possible balance between the protection and improvement of the water environment and the interests of those who depend on it for their livelihood and quality of life.

The WFD sets out the strategic response to the threat of pollution and its four objectives are:

  • Prevent further deterioration of water quality;
  • Restore ‘good’ status of water quality and quantity for ground waters and ‘good’ or ‘high’ status for surface waters;
  • Reduce chemical pollution of water sources;
  • Achieve protected area objectives[1].

For the purposes of implementing the WFD, Kilkenny County Council is implementing the programme of measures to address significant pressures on water outlined in the National River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021 (RBMP) and will for the subsequent RBMP plan 2022-2027.   These include working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure appropriate measures are taken to provide adequate protection of both water quality and quality. This work includes working with the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme and other agencies, stakeholders and the public to restore water quality status in Areas for Action identified in the RBMP and protect water quality in areas outside of this network. Specific care is required for the protection for the High-Status objective waterbodies (near pristine waterbodies) in Kilkenny which may require additional measures to meet their specific requirements[2].

The Council has responsibilities in the areas of maintaining, improving, enhancing and protecting the ecological quality of all waters in the County.  The work includes implementation of pollution control measures, licensing of effluent discharges, implementing and monitoring compliance with environmental legislation, and drawing up pollution contingency measures, development control and forward planning.

The Council will continue to take appropriate measures in relation to all development in order to prevent ground and surface water pollution and will implement the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018 – 2021 and its successors.


10B        It is an objective of the plan to implement the measures of the River Basin Management Plan, including continuing to work with communities thought the Local Authority Waters Programme to restore and improve water quality in the identified areas of action.


​​​​​​​ Blue Dot Designations

The objective of the Blue Dot Catchment programme is to protect and restore the high-water status waterbodies by protecting their catchment.  Kilkenny has one blue dot designation, the catchment area of which is located at Muckalee. 

Figure 10.1 Kilkenny’s High-Water Quality (Blue Dot) Catchment area (Muckalee)

The Council will support and protect the high-water quality status of the Kilkenny Blue Dot designated catchment area by restricting high intensity agriculture and other developments that may impact the quality of the water in the catchment.


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Groundwater

Groundwater is used to supply some water supply schemes, and is also used by a significant number of households in the county who are dependent on private wells.  A number of group schemes are also dependant on groundwater (aquifers).  Underground aquifers are exploited commercially for bottled water, which can be a significant economic resource.  Groundwater also contributes to the river system.

The Geological Survey of Ireland has completed a Groundwater Protection Scheme for County Kilkenny[3].  The overall aim of a Groundwater Protection Scheme is to preserve the quality of groundwater, for drinking water, surface water ecosystems and terrestrial ecosystems, for the benefit of present and future generations. The groundwater protection schemes are based on information provided by a suite of maps, including:

•             Groundwater protection zones, hydrogeological data

•             Aquifers

•             Vulnerability

•             Outcrop and depth to bedrock

•             Subsoils geology

•             Bedrock geology

The Groundwater Protection Scheme provides guidance for Kilkenny County Council in decision-making on the location, nature and control of developments and activities in order to protect groundwater. Source Protection Areas

Groundwater sources, particularly for public, group scheme and industrial supplies, are of critical importance.  Consequently, Source Protection Areas are delineated around groundwater sources to provide protection by placing tighter controls on activities within those areas.  Source Protection Areas are divided into Inner Protection Areas and Outer Protection Areas[4].

Irish Water has adopted the World Health Organisation (WHO) Water Safety Plan approach. Drinking Water Safety Plans (DWSPs) seek to protect human health by identifying, scoring and managing risks to water quality and quantity; taking a holistic approach from source to tap. The ‘source’ component of DWSPs is a key component and a priority within Irish Water, as protecting and restoring the quality of raw water is an effective and sustainable means of reducing the cost of water treatment in line with Article 7(3) of the WFD.

Development within Source Protection Areas shall be subject to stringent requirements in accordance with the Groundwater Protection Scheme and the Water Services Acts 2007 & 2012.  Developments which include on-site wastewater treatment in Inner Source Protection Areas of Extreme Vulnerability shall be subject to strict Development Management Requirements.

In practical terms, protection of groundwater can be achieved through the encouragement of best practice in agricultural and industrial activities and through best practice in the installation and use of wastewater treatment systems. 


​​​​​​​ Water Quality

The Council will promote compliance with environmental standards and objectives established—

  • for bodies of surface water, by the European Communities (Surface Waters) Regulations 2009;
  • for groundwater, and groundwater by European Union Environmental Objectives (Groundwater) (Amendment) Regulations 2016;


10C        To complete the mapping of source protection areas and to map Source Protection Areas for any new public water supply schemes as appropriate. 

10D        To ensure that Source Protection Areas are identified for any multiple unit housing developments with private water supplies. 


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Water Quality Development Management Requirements:
  • To assess all new applications for single houses in accordance with the EPA manual entitled Code of Practice – Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems serving Single Houses[5] (p.e. ≤ 10), also referred to as EPA 2009 or any revisions or replacement. The person carrying out the assessment will be suitably qualified and in the local authority’s opinion, be competent to do so.        
  • To ensure that all industrial development is appropriately located, and to seek effluent reduction and 'clean production' where feasible, and require that waste water treatment facilities are adequate, and that effluents are treated and discharged in a satisfactory manner.
  • To have regard to the Groundwater Protection Scheme and to comply with the Water Services Acts 2007 as amended in decision-making on the location, nature and control of developments and activities in order to protect groundwater. 


[1] Protected areas are those requiring special protection under existing national or European legislation, either to protect their surface waters or groundwater, or to conserve habitats or species that directly depend on these sites.

[2] To protect and restore our high-status waters, a “Blue Dot Catchments Programme” will be established …. This will ensure that high-status waters are prioritised for the implementation of supporting measures…(RBMP 2018-2021)

[4] Maps and data are available from the Geological Survey of Ireland, see https://www.gsi.ie/en-ie/data-and-maps/Pages/Groundwater.aspx