Awareness of the need for social, economic and environmental coherence in the management of water is becoming evermore apparent. Water supply as well as treatment is becoming more costly; a challenge that is not only limited to developing countries. The use of wetlands, natural and constructed, is now more widely accepted as a means of tackling a range of problems in water management to deliver this coherence. The use of 16 Integrated Constructed Wetlands that mimic shallow, emergent-vegetated, palustrine wetlands in a 2,500 ha catchment in County Waterford, Southeast Ireland, has shown a number of distinct advantages in implementing the all encompassing ‘Ecosystem Approach’, addressing the key elements for sustainable water management in an intensively used agricultural area. The significant increase in water quality, biodiversity, social amenities and acceptance by the local rural community provided by this ‘real’ field-scale demonstration show the benefits that such a joined-up approach can have on catchment management in the widest sense.

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