Protecting and Managing Ireland’s Water Resources

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Martin McGarrigle, EPA - An overview of the issues facing Ireland in the protection and management of Water Resources

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Protecting and Managing Ireland’s Water Resources

  1. 1. Ireland’s Environment – An Assessment 2012Water Martin McGarrigle 27 June 2012
  2. 2. Ireland’s Environment 2012 - Water The Current Situation Drivers and Pressures Responses Outlook
  3. 3. Water - The Current Situation Groundwater Rivers Lakes Transitional and Coastal Waters
  4. 4. Groundwater Quality 85.6% of the area of groundwater aquifers is at good status
  5. 5. Groundwater Quality  GW 25% Drinking Water  GW affects ecology of rivers & estuaries - low flows - sea lettuce)  GW influenced by SW phosphates in karst areas especially  Nitrate Concentrations are influenced by rainfall variation from year to year  Microbial pathogens are an important consideration – 40% of all samples taken from 285 wells and springs – a threat to private water supplies in particular
  6. 6. River Water Quality • 71% of river channel is at high or good status • Serious pollution almost gone • Slight and Moderate pollution stabilised ~29%
  7. 7. Loss of Highest Quality Waters • High Status waters still declining • They are easily degraded but it’s very important to protect them.
  8. 8. International Comparisons
  9. 9. Lake Water Quality • 46.6% of lakes monitored are at high or good status • The main form of pollution is still eutrophication or over- enrichment with phosphate and nitrate. • Rivers flow into lakes carrying nutrients – need to implement measures in their catchments upstream.
  10. 10. Lake Water Quality – International Comparisons
  11. 11. Quality of Transitional and Coastal Waters46% of transitional and coastal waters are athigh or good status.
  12. 12. Quality of Transitional and Coastal Waters Transitional Waters in Top 5 across Europe  Under pressure due to coastal population Coastal Waters  Among the best in Europe  70% achieve high or good status Urban Wastewater is the biggest threat  Some big improvements seen – e.g. Sligo WWTP Nitrogen from Agricultural Sources  Argideen near Courtmacsherry – sea lettuce
  13. 13. Drivers and Pressures
  14. 14. Responses River Basin Management Plans - Programme of Measures
  15. 15. Programme of Measures boil down to six actions  1. Controlling the inputs of phosphorus and nitrogen to waters.  2. Controlling inputs of oxygen using matter (e.g. silage, milk waste, sewage).  3. Controlling pathogens in water.  4. Complete elimination of dangerous substances (priority substances) and control of specific pollutants to protect aquatic communities and human health.  5. Ensuring that there is a sufficient volume of water in all our water bodies.  6. Controlling hydromorphological conditions (physical characteristics of the shape and boundaries of the water body) both in-stream and along riparian zones.
  16. 16. Tackling Pollution Diffuse Pollution  Agriculture – farmyards and fields  Good Agricultural Practice  Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems (septic tanks)  Registration and Inspections under Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012  Forestry – planting, fertilising, clear felling, acidification  Forest and Water Guidelines, Acid Sensitive Protocol, Hen Harrier, Unenclosed Land Large Point Source Pollution  Licensing of large Urban Wastewater Treatment Plants  Certification of smaller (<500 pe) WWTPs  Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Licensing  Water Pollution Act - Section 4 licences
  17. 17. Urban Wastewater 93% of urban waste water discharges in Ireland received secondary treatment or better. 11 large urban areas do not meet the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) requirement to have secondary treatment in place.  Bray and Ringaskiddy,  Clifden,  Moville, Eight urban areas do not meet the UWWTD requirement to provide nutrient reduction in addition to secondary treatment  This includes the cities of Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny. 46% of waste water treatment plants did not meet all waste water quality standards or EPA guidelines.
  18. 18. Eliminating Serious Pollution The extent of serious pollution of rivers has been reduced significantly in recent years. In 2004–2006, 39 sites were categorised as seriously polluted. In 2007–2009 this had dropped to 20 sites. By 2011 there was a further significant reduction to 11 sites. Currently, approximately 18 km of river channel remains seriously polluted from a total length of 13,200 km surveyed.
  19. 19. Outlook We have reduced serious pollution Need to tackle slight and moderate pollution on a site by site basis  – point or diffuse pollution Lakes will respond to reduced nutrient inputs from rivers Improvements in Coastal areas due to new Urban WWTP  Still 42 coastal towns requiring upgrading  Reduction of riverine nutrient inputs also important Groundwater status dependent on surface waters  Improvements in rivers will bring some GWs up in status too.  Longer term in some cases and some e.g. mine wastes may be more intractable
  20. 20. Outlook Protection of High Status waters - very important Food Harvest 2020 brings new challenges  Business as usual will mean more pollution  Decouple intensity of agriculture from potential impacts  Preventing direct cattle access to water for example  Nutrient management plans  Buffer zones at potential ‘hot spots’ or critical source areas Governance of Water Framework Implementation  Three tier strategy proposed
  21. 21. Water Framework Governance Tier 1: National Management and Oversight: Led by the DECLG, the main emphasis would be on:  preparation of policy and national regulations  steering the WFD implementation at a national level  addressing funding priorities, including integrating the Water Services  Investment Programme and WFD programmes of measures  national-level interaction with Irish Water  planning and development coordination related to water quality issues.
  22. 22. Water Framework Governance Tier 2: National Technical Implementation and Reporting: Led by the EPA, the activities would focus principally on:  monitoring, assessment and reporting  production of River Basin Management Plans  evaluation and implementation of measures  monitoring of enforcement tasks and environmental outcomes.
  23. 23. Water Framework Governance Tier 3: Regional Implementation via Water Networks: Led by the lead local authority within the RBD, this level would address:  public awareness and participation  implementation of Programmes of Measures by relevant public bodies, tracking and reporting, in consultation with EPA  local authority monitoring, licensing and enforcement actions  follow-up investigative monitoring aimed at pin-pointing sources of pollution.

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