Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 27 September, 2007
Written Answers. - Water Quality.
Deputy Michael D. Higgins Deputy Michael D. Higgins
Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the establishment of a separate stand alone authority which would have jurisdiction for matters of water quality and for compliance with water directives, in particular with regard to the way such would impact on ongoing crises affecting the River Corrib; and if he will make a statement on both the general, and specific, points of this question. [21317/07]
Deputy John Gormley Deputy John Gormley
Deputy John Gormley: Primary responsibility for the monitoring, management, protection and improvement of water quality is currently assigned to local authorities under the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts and related legislation. The EPA, through its Office of Environmental Enforcement, exercises general supervision in relation to the performance of these functions by local authorities.
 In addition, since 1997, my Department has been promoting a comprehensive, catchment-based, national strategy to combat eutrophication in rivers and lakes. As part of the process of implementing the EU Water Framework Directive, this catchment-based strategy was expanded to include all waters — including groundwaters, estuaries and coastal waters.
The Water Framework Directive requires a co-ordinated approach to water management in respect of whole river basins. A total of eight River Basin Districts (RBDs) have been identified on the whole island of Ireland to form the “administrative areas” for co-ordinated management.
Under the European Communities (Water Policy) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 722 of 2003), the competent authorities for the purposes of the establishment of environmental objectives and programmes of measures and the making of river basin management plans, are the relevant local authorities in each RBD. In addition, the Regulations specify that, in each of the RBDs, one of the local authorities will act as a coordinator for all of the others. These Regulations also require the EPA to take such measures as it considers appropriate to promote and facilitate the co-ordination of activities for the purposes of implementating of the Water Framework Directive. I have no proposals to establish a separate, stand-alone authority with responsibility for water quality.
Dáil Éireann 638 Written Answers. Water Quality.