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Kick Sampling
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Baetis & Perla
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AQUAFACT conducting SSRS training


AQUAFACT recognises the need to protect and maintain the health of the freshwater environment and the relevance of strictly adhering to current recommendations and standards set out by the EU Water Framework Directive and the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Our combined experiences and skills coupled with our dedication to using science-based assessments to find balanced solutions is what establishes AQUAFACT as a leading environmental consulting company. Our expert staff provides professional consulting services to various sectors including: pipelines, forestry, agriculture, aquaculture, recreation and government agencies. Our employees boast proficiency in a range of freshwater based projects specialising in macroinvertebrate taxonomy, water quality and habitat identification. Successfully awarded contracts and satisfied clients reflect our success as leaders in our field.

The kick sample methodology is used to sample freshwater bodies, click here for more.

EPA Quality Classification system

This biological monitoring system was devised by the EPA to assess the water quality of rivers and streams in Ireland. In order to ascertain the biological quality of a river or stream, the Q-scheme method is used whereby a Quality-index is assigned to a river or stream based on macroinvertebrate data. The Q-index is a quality measurement ranging from Q1-Q5 with Q1 being of the poorest quality and Q5 being pristine / unpolluted.

Q. Value Macroinvertebrate Diversity Condition Quality Status Quality Class
Q5 High Good Satisfactory Unpolluted A
Q4 Reduced Fair Satisfactory Unpolluted A
Q3 Low Doubtful Unsatisfactory Slightly polluted B
Q2 Very Low Poor Unsatisfactory Moderately polluted C
Q1 Little/None Bad Unsatisfactory Seriously polluted D


  • Freshwater macroinvertebrates are biological elements playing a key role in the characterisation of freshwater bodies.
  • They represent an extremely diverse group of aquatic animals sensitive to stressors such as organic pollutants, sediments, and toxicants.
  • They are regarded as being ideal indicators as they are continually exposed to any changes that occur in the environment. It is these responses to change that can be used to establish any impacts the water bodies they occupy have.

SSRS (Small Streams Risk Score) TRAINING

The Small Streams Risk Score (SSRS) is a new biological risk assessment system for detecting potential sources of pollution in rivers. It was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in association with Western River Basin District (WRBD). The main aim of the SSRS is to support the programme of measures for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) which has as its main objective the achievement of ‘Good’ water status in all water bodies by 2015. The SSRS is of particular value in detecting hard to find diffuse sources of pollution within catchments. AQUAFACT provide full SSRS training to ecology staff on local councils, fisheries boards and in private companies. Training is typically conducted over two days and includes both lab and field sessions.

The basic principle of the SSRS is that aquatic insects and other invertebrates living in streams can be used as continuous monitors of water quality.

Ireland will shortly begin reporting the results of status assessments for the main channel river monitoring to Europe and this will form an important part of our compliance with the Water Framework Directive implementation. The status assessments will be based on the EPA’s Quality Rating System (Q-Value), water chemistry and a range of other biological elements such as aquatic plants and fish. The river monitoring programme currently includes 2500 main channel sites. Where a monitoring site is not rated as being of at least ‘Good’ status a Programme of Measures is required to ensure that it reaches Good status.

SSRS surveys are designed to assist in the identification of diffuse sources of pollution, and they have already proved invaluable in pinpointing the likely geographical location of the sources that are causing the main channel sites to fail. The tool provides local authorities with a means to focus environmental inspection activities in areas of identified risk, thus using available resources more effectively.

There is a need to train staff in public authorities to undertake SSRS surveys as a support for Programme of Measures aimed at controlling diffuse pollution in particular. AQUAFACT SSRS training is carried out by expert taxonomists and field ecologists – sampling methods, identification of the invertebrates collected, safety issues and formal quality control quality assurance are all covered. Ongoing Quality Control samples must also be submitted by operators in order to maintain their intercalibration status.


Water samples from freshwater bodies can be collected using a standard water sampler. A suite of physio-chemical analyses can be carried out on these samples e.g. Total aerobic mesophilic bacteria, total coliforms, faecal coliforms (E. coli), faecal streptococci, nutrients, temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen.

Water samples are analysed by Complete Lab Solutions, Ros Muc, Galway

Freshwater sediment samples can be collected by a corer or grab sampler, if required. Analysis of sediment samples can include sediment grain size, total organic carbon content, heavy metal levels, PAHs, PCBs, TBT, oil identification and dioxins. Sediment analyses is carried out in-house (grain size) and by a number of external laboratories, e.g. Complete Lab Solutions, Ros Muc Galway, ALS Loughrea, Galway and the UK National Laboratory Service, IJ Labs, Dundalk, Louth.