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Ireland aims for water quality improvement, focuses on agriculture and drainage


September 30, 2021


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This week, Ireland set out on an ambitious mission. The River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022-2027 has officially opened in its first phase (public consultation) and aims to address water quality including wastewater infrastructure and improving biodiversity. Of the more than 100 measures outlined, addressing nutrient seeping from agricultural land is key.

Of the nearly 5,000 water bodies identified, only 41 percent are identified as “not at risk” – the remaining are either “in review” or “at risk.” The draft notes that agricultural pressures have increased significantly. As such, the report says key measures must include reducing the loss of fertilizers and soil from farmland into water, as well as reducing the physical impacts on water bodies caused by the drainage of lands and rivers and the presence of barriers. “The number of waterbodies that have been significantly altered in physical character as a result of arterial drainage schemes is significant,” the draft stated. Pollutants identified include phosphorus, pathogens, silt and an effect on biodiversity.

However, the draft focuses on regulation – not elimination – of land drainage system. It also acknowledged the positive impacts of projects such as buffers, which can reduce the seeping of certain nutrients into waterways.

View the draft and learn how you can share your inputs here.

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