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EU raps Ireland on knuckles over water quality plan

The EU has told Ireland once again to get a move on with its long-awaited plan to manage its rivers and lakes.

The European Commission said it is calling on Ireland and seven other member states to finalise the review of their river basin management plans as required under the Water Framework Directive.

The directive requires that all inland and coastal waters reach at least good status by 2027 at the latest.

Ireland's River Basin Management Plans are unveiled in six-year cycles, and the latest will bring it up to the EU's 2027 deadline. 

Overall, just 44% of rivers across the country for which a pristine objective has been set in the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland are currently achieving that status.


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The latest river plan is in the final stages of preparation, according to the Department of Housing, but the Commission has now told the Government to hurry it up.

Just half of Ireland's rivers and lakes were deemed to be of good ecological condition in the latter half of the past decade, with rivers especially dropping in quality from previous assessments, data last month revealed.

According to data published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), around 51% of monitored river water bodies were classified as "good or high ecological status" between 2016 and 2021, while 49% were in moderate, poor, or bad ecological status.

Additionally, the State's environmental watchdog revealed in June that there was no real improvement in the water quality of Irish lakes, rivers, and coasts last year, with agriculture the primary culprit for pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said fertilisers and manure had exacerbated nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the country's rivers and lakes.

In January this year, the European Commission said it was referring Ireland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to correctly transpose the Water Framework Directive into national law. 

EU member states were required to do this by December 2003. Ireland initially adopted legislation, but the Commission found it to be insufficient.