The State plans on pushing back its overarching water quality target of reaching at least ‘good’ water quality status across all rivers, lakes and estuaries by 2027, according to a draft Water Action Plan published by the Department of Housing.

The draft plan claims that meeting this objective across all waterbodies by the 2027 Water Framework Directive deadline looks “unlikely” even if “urgent, substantial and widely adopted” measures are rolled out.

For the 40-43% of waterbodies the State expects to fall short of the deadline, the achievement of water quality targets “will need to be phased over a more sustainable timeframe” beyond 2027, it states.

These waterbodies will be the subject of the “interim review of progress” in 2025.

The plan identifies the recruitment of farmers into new schemes like the Farming for Water EIP as being a factor in determining the speed and effectiveness of new water quality measures.

Also outlined as being a key measure to boost water quality are previously announced increases in the number of farm inspections focused on water quality. These inspection efforts include 4,500 local authority farm inspections, approximately 700 Department of Agriculture derogation inspections and an additional 500-1,000 Department inspections under the Good Agricultural Practice regulations.