Under the EU’s Water Framework Directive my Department has a lead role in developing and implementing policies to protect our water. Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) 2018-2021, available on www.housing.gov.ie, outlines the measures the Government and other sectors are taking to improve water quality in Ireland’s groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuarine and coastal waters during the period 2018 - 2021.
Key actions include investment in management measures to address agricultural and waste water discharges, the two most significant pressures on waters, including significant investment by Irish Water in wastewater infrastructure. The Government has also invested significantly in the establishment of a Catchment Science Unit within the EPA and the Local Authorities Water Programme to drive the targeted implementation of management measures.
The progress made in relation to compliance with the EU Water Framework Directive quality objectives since the first plan was published in 2010 can be viewed in the EPA report on Water Quality 2017, published in 2018, available on www.epa.ie. An updated report will be published shortly. While it is too early yet to see significant water quality improvements as a result of management measures in this plan, the new targeted approach focused on high risk areas of catchments is expected to bring about an improvement in water quality over the coming years.
With regard to compliance with the Directive generally, Ireland received a Letter of Formal Notice from the European Commission on 24 January 2019 which raised a significant number of broad and complex issues in relation to the legal transposition of the Directive. My Department is liaising with the European Commission with regard to progressing specific areas for action under the infringement.