Water Projects

The River Clodiagh Freshwater Pearl Mussel Conservation Project


The River Clodiagh Freshwater Pearl Mussel Conservation Project is a project under the Water Framework Directive Programme.

Freshwater Pearl Mussels have lived in Irish rivers since the end of the ice age. Individuals can live to over 100 years. Unfortunately, the FPM in the River Clodiagh is going extinct. Juvenile mussels are not surviving due to sediment load in the river bed smothering them in the first five years of life, when they live buried in river gravel.

Pearl Mussels need our help and this project has a twin-track approach. An assisted breeding programme will be set up to bring juvenile mussels through their first five years in a protected environment. After five years the mussels move to the top of the river bed and are much more resilient to environmental pressures. At the same time the river habitats will be assessed and if possible improved, to prepare for release of the semi-mature juveniles after five years.


The River Clodiagh is a tributary of the river Suir in County Waterford, flowing through the villages of Rathgormack, Clonea and Portlaw. It is a valuable water abstraction source, supplying water since 1984 to the East Waterford drinking water treatment plant, serving 60,000 people and many major industries. The Clodiagh was designated as one of 27 FPM SACs but it is ranked a low priority and no conservation action will be taken nationally. Unless local action is taken, the population will be allowed to go extinct.


Conserving the FPM will serve as a focal point for the local people to rally around and support actions to improve the conditions in the river. Any pollution control or aquatic habitat improvement work carried out on behalf of the FPM will also benefit all others depending on a healthy river, such as fish and water abstraction.


The current project partners, working with the local community, are; Inland Fisheries Ireland, Irish Water, NPWS, Waterford Council, LAWPRO, Streamscapes, Portlaw Heritage Group, Curraghmore Estate, Teagasc, Forestry Service and WIT.


The project commenced in 2017 and is ongoing. Public meetings and surveys of the upper catchment are planned for 2018. The assisted breeding programme is expected to commence in 2019, NPWS licence permitting. The project will continue for at least five years.


  • Keep an eye out for local public meetings about the project.
  • Your cooperation with river surveyors is requested.
  • On the Farm - Fence off rivers from livestock, use troughs instead of drinking bays, avoid spreading fertilisers, slurry and pesticides near river banks.
  • At Home - Look after your septic tank. Don’t flush plastics or chemicals down the loo.
  • In the Community - Be a citizen scientist – submit wildlife sightings to Biodiversity Ireland
  • Report incidents of pollution or dumping to Waterford City & County Council 0761 10 20 20

Project contact: Paul Carroll Waterford City and County Council

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