The European Commission has referred a complaint against Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union in relation to compliance with the urban wastewater treatment directive. The case relates to 40 urban areas which the Commission believes to be non-compliant. The Chief State Solicitor's office formally lodged Ireland's defence with the Court of Justice of the European Union in October 2017 and the written procedure on the case closed in February. The decision of the court is awaited.
Funding under the national development plan and in line with the objectives of the river basin management plan for the period 2018 to 2021 has been designed to tackle the impact of historical under-investment in wastewater treatment facilities. The river basin management plan which I launched in April sets out €1.7 billion worth of investment by Irish Water in 255 urban wastewater projects which are proposed to achieve compliance with the urban wastewater treatment directive and other measures to prevent deterioration and support targeted water quality improvements.
In relation to the revised drinking water directive, the Commission has presented its proposal and the working party on the environment has provided an initial reaction. The Presidency has developed some preliminary compromise papers and some aspects will be the subject of political discussion at the June Environment Council. The incoming Austrian Presidency will consider the appropriate next steps.
The Commission initiated pilot infringement proceedings in May 2015 in relation to THMs in drinking water in Ireland. Ireland’s response was rejected by the Commission on 23 January 2017, but the case has not yet been escalated. My Department has been working closely with Irish Water on drinking water standards and work programmes are well in hand to address the issue.