Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Ceisteanna (943)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

943. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the surveys being carried out under the water framework directive in the south east of the country; the expected timeframe for surveys to be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23203/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018 – 2021 sets out the actions which Ireland will take over the period in order to improve the quality of our aquatic environment and meet the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive.

The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) is a shared service working with local authorities and State agencies to develop and implement the River Basin Management Plan. Their work involves the assessment of water bodies to understand any issues affecting water quality. Working with local communities, landowners, business owners and public bodies, the Programme team develops relevant and workable solutions to identified issues.

The Plan lists 190 Priority Areas for Action (PAA) around which LAWPRO’s work is concentrated. Thirty-five of these areas are located in the South East Region. LAWPRO is currently carrying out local catchment assessments in nine of these areas as follows:

Athy stream

Clodiagh (Portlaw)

Dinin (South, Main and Muckalee channels)

Owveg (Nore)

Sow

Tay

Burren

Clashawley

Nuenna

These areas are all are tributaries of the Barrow, Suir, Nore and Slaney rivers and the assessment work is expected to conclude on each before December 2021.

Informing and working with local communities is an important part of LAWPRO’s work. Prior to commencing their assessments, LAWPRO organises a community information meeting to discuss the water body with local people and interest groups. These meetings are publicised via the placement of adverts in local newspapers, and the distribution of posters and leaflets. Local meetings are followed by farmer engagement events organised by advisors from the collaborative Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme, with the support of LAWPRO staff. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine issues letters of invitation to farmers within the PAA for these events.

LAWPRO catchment scientists analyse feedback from local communities and farmers along with scientific data from the EPA, local authorities and other bodies before designing a fieldwork plan to address gaps in their understanding of how water flows through the catchment and the local pressures on water quality in that area.

As part of their fieldwork, LAWPRO catchment scientists walk the riverbanks and take water samples to assess the condition of the river. Once the fieldwork is concluded and analysed, LAWPRO discuss the outcome of the assessment with the relevant implementing bodies or landowners and agree timelines for implementation of measures to improve water quality. The advisors from the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme will discuss any agricultural measures with the farmers. 

LAWPRO plan to carry out 101 detailed desk-studies, 87 community information meetings and conduct 75 catchment assessments nationally by December 2019. 

LAWPRO will produce a report for each Priority Area for Action and information will also be available on the www.catchments.ie website later in the summer.