Ireland: Pollution of water sources is not acceptable

Oct. 22, 2007
"Water is a precious resource and just is not acceptable that our groundwaters are being polluted unnecessarily," so said The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, T.D as he announced he had signed new regulations which provide for the licensing and policing regime of sewage treatment facilities. The new licensing system which will be policed by the Environmental Protection Agency will set strict limits on discharges allowed from these plants into our...

• Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 Signed
• All local authority waste water discharges must be authorised
• New Regulations should result in improved water quality in rivers, lakes and coastal waters
• All sources of pollution must be tackled

DUBLIN, Ireland, Oct. 12, 2007 -- "Water is a precious resource and just is not acceptable that our groundwaters are being polluted unnecessarily," so said The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, T.D as he announced he had signed new regulations which provide for the licensing and policing regime of sewage treatment facilities. The new licensing system which will be policed by the Environmental Protection Agency will set strict limits on discharges allowed from these plants into our surface waters such as rivers, canals and lakes, groundwater and coastal waters. The Regulations have been made to implement outstanding aspects of the EU Dangerous Substances and Water Framework Directives.

The Minister reiterated his commitment to preserving and enhancing environmental standards and the quality of natural water resources in particular. "These new Regulations will form part of an overall strategy to protect the environment and improve the quality of life", the Minister said. "The Regulations, in conjunction with the recently announced provision of 4.7 billion in the National Development Plan for new and upgraded water services infrastructure, are a reflection of the Government's commitment to this aim," he added.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in considering applications for authorisations, will stipulate conditions to ensure compliance with standards applying for various substances and to conform with obligations under applicable EU Directives, including the Water Framework, Dangerous Substances, Birds, Groundwater, Drinking Water, Urban Waste Water Treatment, Habitats and Bathing Water Directives.

EPA Report on Water Quality
The results of the EPA report today shows some improvements in water quality in rivers and lakes, but indicates a trend of decline in groundwater quality, and calls for more stringent management of that resource. " The report shows the very serious challenge which faces us in relation to curbing pollution of our water sources. Generally our water quality is of a decent standard but there is a small pocket of persistent polluters who need to be tackled," said Minister Gormley.

"My Department is continuing to take action to address the threats to water quality. I recently announced the 2007-2009 phase of the ongoing Water Services Investment Programme, which provides for construction or upgrading of some 955 water supply and waste water treatment schemes, involving a total investment of 5.8 billion. This programme of investment in sewage infrastructure, will greatly reduce the inputs of nutrients from municipal sources. Pollution of waters by agricultural sources will also be reduced through the good agricultural practices supported by the Nitrates Regulations. I am confident that these measures, among others being pursued by the Government will ensure improvements in water quality in coming years."

"The key way to address our difficulties with pollution sources is through the regulatory regime and the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 are only one element of a range of measures being taken to protect our water resources," added Minister Gormley.

Nitrates Regulations (Farm Pollution Laws)
"The Nitrate Regulations which were a long time coming and only finalised last year will also play a major role in curbing pollution from farming sources. Under the Nitrates Regulations I have increased maximum penalties to 5,000 and/or 3 months imprisonment for summary offences, and 500,000 and/or 1 year imprisonment for indictable offences."

"The final part of the jigsaw and the one thing that will stop this needless pollution of our water sources is effective enforcement. I am currently working on further regulations under the Nitrates Directive which will require both the EPA and Local Authorities to effectively enforce the regulations. I want to see more inspections, I want to see enforcement and if people are in breach of these regulations, I want to see the full rigours of the law applied to them." concluded Minister Gormley.

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Also see:
-- "New powers to curb water pollution granted to Irish EPA"

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