I refer to the replies to Questions Nos. 58 of 16 November 1999 and 76 of 16 December 1999 as to measures being taken in relation to water quality generally.
Primary statutory responsibility for the protection and management of water quality is assigned to local authorities by the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts, 1977 and 1990. The Three Rivers Project relates to the rivers Boyne, Liffey and Suir and is jointly administered by Kildare County Council, Meath County Council and Tipperary SR County Council. This three-year project commenced in September 1998 with the overall aim of establishing monitoring systems and developing management strategies, which will conserve the waters of these river systems and restore them to good ecological status. A preliminary report was issued in March 2000 indicating the overall features of the catchments involved, the vulnerability of the three rivers to pollution from point and diffuse sources and the actions taken in the start-up phase of the project. I am satisfied that the establishment of these monitoring and management systems will provide a practical and effective framework for implementation within the catchments of national policies and measures including, for example, the implementation of the phosphorus regulations made by me in 1998 and the voluntary agreement concluded with the detergents industry in December 1999 for the phasing out of phosphate-based household detergents. I will give consideration to what further measures may be appropriate on my part when the final report and recommendations of the project become available.