The EU Water Framework Directive is an important piece of EU environmental legislation which aims at improving our water environment. It requires governments to take a new holistic approach to managing their waters. It applies to rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters. Member States must aim to achieve good status in all waters by 2015 and must ensure that status does not deteriorate in any waters.
The Directive requires the preparation of management plans for all waters in an area called a River Basin District. There are eight River Basin Districts on the island of Ireland. County Laois is located in the South Eastern River Basin District and a small part of the Shannon River Basin District.
A dynamic programme of management measures has been finalised as part of the River Basin Management Plan. The Draft Plans for both the South Eastern River Basin District and the Shannon River Basin District were published in December 2008 and the final plans were adopted in 2010.
The Nore Freshwater Pearl Mussel
In Laois, the River Nore is an SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and home to the Freshwater Pearl Mussel (Margaritifera durrovensis), a critically endangered species. The quality of the population’s habitat is failing due to siltation and algal growth in the River Nore. The objective of the WFD is to prevent the deterioration of and restore Good Status to this habitat.