Waters of LIFE

The Waters of LIFE is an EU LIFE Integrated Project (IP) which aims to help reverse the deterioration of Ireland’s most pristine waters.
Learn more about the Waters of LIFE Project here


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    Waters of LIFE is supported by

    European Union LIFE programme

    The LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action.  It began in 1992 and has co-funded thousands of projects in the field of environmental protection.

    Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

    The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is responsible for ensuring the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive. The water division of the Department aims to protect and improve water resources in Ireland.

    Topical information

    Pilot Catchments

    Six sub catchments have been chosen as demonstration catchments for the waters of life project. Measures to address various pressures including hydromorphology, forestry, agriculture, wastewater and other pressures will be trialed in five of these areas, with the sixth acting as a control. With the exception of the control, these catchments have been chosen because they at risk of failing to meet the high status objective that has been set for them under the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022-2028.

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    High Status Objective Water Bodies

    High status surface water bodies are the rivers and lakes with the best quality water.  These waters are home to lots of species that are sensitive to pollution and would not survive in lower quality waters.  High status waters have a natural physical form that has not been changed by human activities e.g. humans have not straightened the river channel or built hard structures to support the river banks.  These waters have excellent water quality with little or no excess nutrients and healthy river beds, free of excess siltation.

    High Status Objective or “blue dot “waters bodies are water bodies which are either currently at high status or have been at high status in the recent past and for which a target of restoring them to high status has been set in the River Basin District Plan for Ireland 2022 to 2027.


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    Results Based Agricultural Payment Schemes

    Results-Based Payments Schemes (RBAPS) link payments to the environmental quality of a farm, with higher environmental quality resulting in a higher payment level. All participating land, both private and commonage, is divided into plots which each receive an annual score of 0 to 10 depending on environmental quality. This score determines the payment levels. The quality of watercourses and in the case of private lands – farmyard management, influences the final payment via a whole-farm assessment.

    This puts the landowner, their skills, expertise and knowledge of their land central to the development of this project and creates a new market for the environmental services the landowner provides through their land management.  It provides an exciting opportunity for farmers in the demonstration catchments to realise and be celebrated for the vital role they play in protecting our environment, particularly our high status object rivers. It also provides an opportunity to enhance the resilience of farming communities.

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