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Area: 5888268 km2
Brazil; Peru; Suriname; France; Colombia; Guyana; Bolivia; Venezuela; Ecuador
Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
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City & Country

Water-Related Challenge Costs

Total annual estimated cost to address all water-related challenges: $466,427,484.00

Share of total annual estimated cost to address each individual challenge (2015 $USD):

  • Access to Drinking Water: $62,987,964.00 - [14%]
  • Access to Sanitation: $87,235,328.00 - [19%]
  • Industrial Pollution: $5,330,043.00 - [1%]
  • Agricultural Pollution: $209,709,077.00 - [45%]
  • Water Scarcity: $23,427,158.00 - [5%]
  • Water Management: $77,737,914.00 - [17%]

For more about this data, see information on WRI’s Achieving Abundance dataset here.

Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

Access to Water Supply and Water Services
Local Water Resource Governance
Socioeconomic and Reputation

Country Overview

1.1.1.WATER RESOURCES Ireland’s climate is influenced by the relatively warm waters of the Gulf Stream and by the prevailing south-western winds from the Atlantic. Consequently, Ireland does not suffer from the extremes of temperature experienced by many other countries at similar latitude. January and February are the coldest months with mean daily air temperatures between 4°C and 6°C. July and August are the warmest, with mean daily air temperatures between 15°C and 16°C. Rainfall regime varies between about 800mm in low lying areas and up to 3,000mm in more mountainous areas. The long-term average annual precipitation is estimated at 1.118 mm/year. Ireland has an abundant supply of water. The long-term average of annual renewable water resources is stated as 52,000 million m3/year of which 94 per cent are considered as internal water resources (49,000 million m3) and only 5 per cent are considered as external water resources (3,000 million m3). By the year 2009 the total dam (reservoir) capacity was stated as 869 million m3. Ireland has seven river basin districts (RBDs), of which three are international RBDs and share water courses with Northern Ireland. The RBDs are the IRBD of Shannon, the south-eastern RBD, the western RBD, the eastern RBD, the south-western, the north-western IRBD and the Neagh Bann IRBD. The consultation process on the draft River Basin Management Plans for each RBD took place between December 22 2008 and June 22 2009. Finally, the 2009-2015 River Basin Management Plans were adopted in July 2010. More generally water resources are likely to be impacted by the projected changes in climate over the coming decades. These impacts are expected to include summer water shortages in the east, the need for crop irrigation, potential deterioration in water quality, and an increased likelihood of flooding and coastal erosion.

1.1.2.WATER USE Because the rivers are mostly relatively short, when abnormal rainfall concentrates in short periods this causes rapid flows of water towards the sea, preventing storage in water courses, lakes and subsoil, and resulting in the loss of enormous quantities of water. Furthermore, the increased use of water by industry, agriculture and households is depleting groundwater reserves, emphasising the need to avoid resource pollution and wastage. Water withdrawal in the country was estimated at a total of 850.2 million m3. A small portion of the water resources (0.2 million m3) were then produced by desalination processes. This water abstraction can be itemised by user sector. By the year 2000, it was estimated that the water dedicated to agriculture only reached 0.2 million m3. However, almost 95 per cent of the water consumption (799 million m3) was dedicated to urban purposes, and for industrial uses the value was stated as 51 million m3.

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH The two main sources of pressure on water quality are from agricultural activities and municipal wastewaters. These activities can contribute to nutrient enrichment, organic pollution and siltation of water bodies. In fact, nutrient enrichment causing eutrophication is stated as the main threat to Ireland’s aquatic systems. However, the implementation of the Nitrates Action Programme under the Nitrates Directive aims at strengthening the protection of waters against pollution from agricultural sources. Agricultural activities associated with pollution include land spreading of artificial fertilisers and animal manures in unsuitable climatic and ground conditions, silage effluent discharges, farmyard runoff, and watering animals. Municipal pollution sources include sewage, waterworks effluent, on-site wastewater treatment systems and diffuse urban inputs. Sewage discharges comprise the main municipal pollution source. Pollution from municipal wastewater treatment plants arises where there is inadequate treatment, combined with storm overflows and direct untreated discharges. In most rural areas the majority of the population uses individual septic tanks that, if poorly sited and/or not properly maintained, can pollute groundwater, surface water and drinking water supplies. Other activities which may impact on water bodies include forestry, industrial activities, quarrying, dredging, fish farming, bog development, civil works and housing development. Given these pressures on water quality, many water bodies will require remedial measures to meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive (WFD, Directive 2000/60/EC). Protection and restoration of high quality waters will also be a significant challenge. Regarding groundwater resources, elevated nitrate concentration in groundwater bodies is an issue, particularly in the southeast and south of the country. It may contribute to eutrophication of surface waters and affect drinking waters. Diffuse agricultural pollution is considered the most significant source. In addition, elevated groundwater phosphate concentrations, particularly in karst limestone areas such as Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, may be contributing to eutrophication in rivers and lakes. Regarding the river system, it is stated that 49 per cent of the river water bodies are classified as having good or better ecological status (i.e. satisfactory), based on the WFD Interim Biological Classification for river water quality in 2008. Given this classification, 28 per cent of river water bodies are classified as having moderate ecological status, 21 per cent poor and 2 per cent have a bad ecological status. In the case of nitrate pollution the majority of sites with elevated nitrate Country Overview - Ireland concentrations occur in the southeast. The contrast between the western and eastern rivers is not as immediately apparent for phosphate as nitrate pollution; however half of the surveillance monitoring sites in the South-Eastern River Basin District (SERBD) would not achieve good status in 2008 based on phosphate levels. High ecological quality at river sites is an indicator of largely undisturbed conditions and reflects the natural background status or only minor distortion by anthropogenic influences. Such sites are used as reference sites from which deviation in quality is measured. These sites play an important part in conserving individual species and overall catchment biodiversity and must be protected under the WFD. The percentage of high quality sites has almost halved in the last 21 years from almost 30 per cent of the total sampled in the 1987-1990 period to less than 17 per cent in 2006- 2008. These sites now comprise less than 2 per cent of the total surveyed. Of the 271 lakes in Ireland, assessed for WFD Interim Biological Status in 2008, over 55 per cent had at least good status. Only very modest nitrogen loading was recorded in 2008 for the 75 lakes on the surveillance monitoring programme, and 81 per cent of surveillance lakes sampled in 2008 were of good or better status for phosphorus concentrations. Although freshwater is abundant, it is not limitless in quantity, and is not evenly distributed across the country; it is not of good quality status everywhere either. However, demand for wastewater treatment also increased substantially and significant investment has been made in treatment capacity. For example, in 2000-01 only 29 per cent of wastewater arising received secondary treatment, which had risen to 92 per cent by 2007-08. The dispersed nature of settlement poses a particular challenge for the provision of affordable environmental services. 

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Organizations in Ireland

To clean and protect the River Dodder and its tributaries, improve facilities, biodiversity and sustainable development along its length, engage all community stakeholders to enjoy its rich heritage (natural, cultural and built heritage), and fulfil the potential of this fabulous … Learn More

The mission of the GRDAJ is to ensure fair journalism is practiced worldwide and to ensure freedom of speech is respected by all journalists And to protect the rights of Journalists worldwide through cooperation. The yearly report of the International … Learn More

Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Learn More

The Water Resilience Coalition, founded in 2020, is an industry-driven, CEO-led coalition of the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate that aims to elevate global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda and preserve the world's freshwater resources … Learn More

Projects in Ireland

Public Volunteer mobilization Event to Clean the River and Tributaries from Source to Sea at all points along it length.Project ResultsPublic Volunteer mobilization to Clean the River and Tributaries from Source to Sea at all points along it length. Large … Learn More

The WaterBee Smart Irrigation Demonstration Action is the follow-on phase from the very successful FP7-SME-007-1 WaterBee “Research for SMEs” project (222440) that ended in September 2010, and very convincingly researched, developed &amp; proved the concept of the WaterBee Prototype to … Learn More

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