The percentage of Irish rivers meeting Europe's highest water quality standard, the "high ecological status", has decreased from 30% in 1987 to 17% for the period 2006-08, according to figures published by Ireland's environment agency on Wednesday.
The dramatic decline is due to nutrient inputs and acidification associated to activities such as agriculture, forestry and housing development, the agency believes. The largest number of high quality rivers is in less densely populated areas.
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