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Major Irish water clean-up strategy published

Words: Roger Milne
Water quality in Ireland to be improved / Shutterstock_485442136

The Irish Government has published its latest plans for protecting and improving water quality across the state, which will involve significant investment in infrastructure over the next four years.

The River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for Ireland 2018-2021 outlines the measures the government and other sectors will take to improve water quality in the country’s groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuarine and coastal waters.

The blueprint is designed to see improvements in water quality in approximately 726 bodies of water in Ireland.

The proposals should see €1.7 billion investment in urban wastewater treatment infrastructure by 2021, and a new farming support and advisory programme to promote best agricultural practice regarding water quality in 190 targeted areas.

With 45 per cent of treated water unaccounted for, €73 million a year is to be spent on reducing water leakage.

The RBMP, which should have been published two years ago, is a requirement under the EU’s Water Framework Directive.

Local government minister Eoghan Murphy said: “This plan represents the most coordinated and ambitious roadmap for improving water quality that Ireland has ever produced.”

Green groups, though, say the strategy isn’t ambitious enough.

The fraught row over introducing domestic water charges delayed the plan’s publication. The directive requires almost all waterways be classified as ‘good’ by 2021 – currently 52 per cent of rivers are classified as ‘unhealthy’.

Water quality in Ireland has deteriorated over the past two decades and the plan acknowledges the need for a more coordinated effort to ensure that waters remain clean, backed by a more robust governance structure to guarantee better delivery.

The consultation can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs website.

Image credit | Shutterstock