18th December

Be(a)ware of the Water Framework Directive!

Rick Boelens, Lough Derg Science Group

The Water Framework Directive (WFD), introduced in December 2000, requires EU countries to maintain or restore good ecological and chemical quality in all surface and underground waterbodies − from mountain streams, through lowland rivers and lakes − to estuaries and lagoons (transitional waters) and coastal waters up to one nautical mile from shore.

This ambitious goal is to be achieved in stages, marked by a series of planning and reporting deadlines, with overall compliance by 2015.

The environmental benefits of the WFD are potentially very great and generally will be welcomed by everyone. But the WFD comes at a price. At present, only a small circle of organisations and State agencies are sufficiently well informed to comprehend the full implications of the Directive. So far there has been surprisingly little public debate on the topic. As almost every Irish citizen will be affected by the Directive, this cannot continue indefinitely. Why, one wonders, is the government PR machine so silent on the matter?  Could it be that some of the measures required by the WFD might prove unpopular?

Read more: Be(a)ware of the Water Framework Directive!

Threat to premier west coast shellfish ground

& Gery Flynn

All-inclusive participation required for management of Clew Bay. Photo Shay FennellyAll-inclusive participation required for management of Clew Bay. Photo Shay Fennelly

Shellfish producers in Clew Bay have told Inshore Ireland they are extremely concerned over proposals by Mayo County Council to discharge leachate from its Derrinumera landfill into Newport Bay.

“The proposed discharge point is less than half a mile from several native oyster beds in the estuary of one of the country’s finest salmon rivers, the Burrishoole,” Alan Stoney, secretary of the Clew Bay Oyster Co-operative said.

According to Stoney, the intended mechanism to render the effluent ‘safe’ is to dilute it sufficiently with the water in Clew Bay.

Read more: Threat to premier west coast shellfish ground

Groundwater and the Water Framework Directive

Diagrammatic illustration of a groundwater body showing the range of receptors that must be considered in implementation of the WFD.© GSI

Diagrammatic illustration of a groundwater body showing the range of receptors that must be considered in implementation of the WFD.© GSI 

Donal Daly, GSI

Progress is always pleasing to report. In the last three years, the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the work undertaken by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), Teagasc, EPA and RBD (river basin district) consultants have advanced considerably the role and understanding of groundwater in Ireland. 

Goundwater has been ‘characterised’, and in the process a new aquifer map of Ireland has been produced. All readily available groundwater data have been collected, soils and subsoils mapping have been undertaken, the hydrochemistry of groundwater has been assessed, and over 700 ‘groundwater bodies’ (the management units of the WFD) have been delineated and described.

Read more: Groundwater and the Water Framework Directive

Government lacks motivation to develop policy on ICZM

& Gery Flynn

The government stands accused of lacking the motivation to develop an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) policy for Ireland. This observation was made in a report which claims that no new national initiatives in this area have been introduced for almost a decade.

‘Review of Integrated Coastal Zone Management & Principles of Best Practice’ was prepared in 2004 for the Heritage Council by the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre (CMRC), University College Cork.

Coastal management in Ireland is 'characterised by a sectoral approach to resource exploitation and management'

Coastal management in Ireland is 'characterised by a sectoral approach to resource exploitation and management'. Photo Gillian Mills

A key finding of the report is that despite stated government support for ICZM, there has been ‘no advances in policy or legislative developments for ICZM since the publication of the draft policy for Ireland in 1997’.

Read more: Government lacks motivation to develop policy on ICZM

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