Ireland legislates to protect rivers, estuaries and lakes from eutrophication

The Irish environment minister has designated 30 water bodies for additional protection to combat what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified as the nation’s most serious environmental pollution problem, eutrophication, (see related feature).

Dan Wallace has announced changes to the Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations to require a higher level of treatment for discharges into the 30 water bodies, following comprehensive water quality assessments carried out by the EPA. The designation of 12 stretches of river, 3 lakes and 15 estuaries as sensitive areas makes the provision of nutrient reduction facilities, or tertiary treatment, compulsory for discharges from large sewage treatment plants. Nutrient reduction facilities have been installed in the appropriate waste water treatment plants in the 10 sensitive areas designated in 1994 and are already in place in a number of the areas now being designated.

The new sensitive areas include the Liffey Estuary in Dublin Bay. It is intended that the upgrading works now in progress to provide secondary treatment at Ringsend will be extended to include nutrient reduction facilities. The lakes to be protected are Lough Ennell in County Westmeath and Lough Muckno and Lough Monalty in County Monaghan. Rivers to be protected include parts of the Blackwater, Brosna, Cavan and Suir.

“This legislation is a major step in our sustained programme to tackle and redress eutrophication of Irish waters,” Wallace said.

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