European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Waters) (Amendment) Regulations 2022

Jurisdiction: Republic of Ireland

Commencement: 17th June 2022

Amends: European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Waters) Regulations 2009

Mini Summary

The European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Waters) Regulations 2009 give effect to Directive 2008/105/EC on environmental quality standards regarding water policy, Directive 2000/60/EC which provides for a framework for action on water policy in the European Community and Directive 2006/11/EC on pollution caused by dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environment.

The Regulations are applicable to all surface waters and provide for the following:

  • Legally binding quality objectives concerning all surface waters and establishes environmental quality standards for pollutants;
  • Examination and review of current discharge authorisations by public authorities to ensure they comply with new water quality objectives and standards relating to emission limits;
  • Classification by the Environmental Protection Agency of surface water bodies;
  • The Environmental Protection Agency may set up inventories of priority substances;
  • Local authorities may work collaboratively with other local authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency to make pollution reduction plans concerning priority substances and phase out emissions and discharges of priority hazardous substances.

The Regulations revoke the Local Government (Water Pollution Act 1977) (Water Quality Standards for Phosphorus) Regulations 1998 (SI 258/1998) RWAT4 and the Water Quality (Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2001 (SI 12/2001) RWAT6.


The definition of ecological status is amended to mean the quality and functioning of aquatic (surface water) ecosystems.

A series of definitions are added.

  • Poor water quality refers to water bodies in which the biological communities differ substantially from ecosystems with pristine or undisturbed ecological status.
  • Bad water quality refers to water bodies in which large portions of the expected biological communities are absent.

References to Table 4A in Schedule 4 are replaced with references to section 1.2 of Annex V of the Water Framework Directive.

Minor technical changes are made to Article 32.

Monitoring the ecological and chemical status of water bodies
Part IVA sets out the procedure for setting chemical, water quality, sediment and biota* standards for:

  • rivers;
  • lakes;
  • transitional waters; and
  • coastal waters.

*Biota means the animal and plant diversity of a particular region.

These standards must:

  • be peer reviewed and subjected to public consultation;
  • conform to international standards; and
  • be of an equivalent scientific quality to national and international standards.

Surface water monitoring network
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must establish and maintain a surface water monitoring network* for the following taxa**.

  • Algae.
  • Daphnia or representative organisms in saline waters.
  • Fish.

*A surface water monitoring network consists of a surveillance monitoring programme, an operational monitoring programme and a programme of investigative monitoring.

**Taxa refers to a group of organisms or species that are genetically similar.

This monitoring network must:

  • obtain acute and chronic data for each taxa;
  • provide a comprehensive overview of the ecological status of the water body in question; and
  • be outlined in the appropriate river basin management plan.

Presenting monitoring results
Estimates for the level of confidence and precision of the results obtained must be set out in the river basin management plan.

Results must be formatted in accordance with Tables 1 and 2 in Schedule 3.

The EPA must indicate whether failure to achieve good ecological status is the result of noncompliance with environmental quality standards.

There are no duties for organisations.


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