Written Answers. - Lough Derg (Clare) Water Quality.

Tony Killeen

Question:

318 Mr. Killeen asked the Minister for the Environment the proposals, if any, he has to improve water quality in Lough Derg, County Clare. [16219/96]

Responsibility for water quality in Lough Derg and implementation of appropriate measures to deal with pollution is a matter primarily for the local authorities concerned and the Environmental Protection Agency in so far as activities licensable by the agency may be involved. Extensive statutory powers are available under the Water Pollution Acts, 1977 and 1990, and the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992, to support these bodies in their roles. These have been complemented by the recent enactment of the Waste Management Act, 1996, and by a new provision allowing local authorities to require farmers to prepare nutrient management plans, where warranted, in the interests of restoring or protecting water quality.

Last July, I jointly launched with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry a code of good agricultural practice aimed at protecting water from pollution. I have asked local authorities to actively promote the code and to distribute it widely among farmers so as to increase environmental awareness and encourage the adoption of sustainable farming practices with benefits for Lough Derg and waters generally.
My Department, with EU assistance, is providing funding to Clare, Galway and Tipperary NR County Councils for a phased investment programme with a total estimated cost of £50 million to upgrade sewerage treatment arrangements within the lake catchment, including provision for nutrient reduction facilities, where required.
EU approvals for the catchment also provide for the funding of a water quality management system. This will assess existing water quality, determine sources of pollution and impacts, and provide a management tool for local authorities in devising and implementing strategies to protect Lough Derg. My Department is working closely with the local authorities concerned to advance the development of this system and I anticipate that the project will be activated later this year.