EU Environmental Legislation - Water Home
Air Water Waste Noise EU Structures EIA Structural Funds 5th Environment Action Programme Chemicals Nature Agriculture

 

INTRODUCTION

Water is essential to life and is one of our most precious natural renewable resources. The earths entire water resources are estimated at 1.5 billion km3 of which 97% is saline. As most of the remaining fresh water is trapped in glaciers and ice sheets, usable fresh water accounts for 0.3% of total water resources.

Due to a number of factors: low population density, a relatively undeveloped industrial sector and high rainfall, Ireland has been to a large extent spared many of the serious water pollution problems experienced by other European countries over the past few decades. However, changes such as intensive agricultural practices, industrial growth and increasing urbanisation are all contributing to a major increase in the pollution load reaching our waterways.

 

EUROPEAN LEGISLATION

Legislation adopted by the EU over the past two decades can be divided into three broad categories:

A. Those Directives and Regulations setting water quality objectives for various uses.

B. Directives which sought to limit or prohibit discharges of dangerous substances into waters by industrial plants.

C. Provisions on marine pollution which aim primarily to put an end to pollution, protect the North Sea, the Baltic and the Mediterranean and to prevent pollution from land-based sources.

 

A. DIRECTIVES AND REGULATIONS SETTING WATER QUALITY OBJECTIVES FOR VARIOUS USES

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 75/440/EEC (SURFACE WATER FOR DRINKING): sets out requirements for ensuring that surface freshwater which is used for drinking meets certain standards and is adequately treated before being introduced to the public supply. Sources of drinking water are divided into three quality categories according to the appropriate standard treatment methods as set out in Annex I.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 79/869/EEC (DRINKING WATER MEASURING METHODS) supplemented this by laying down methods of measurement and the frequency of sampling and analysis to determine the quality of surface water in Member States.

Related to these two standards is COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 80/778/EEC (WATER FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION) which lays down standards for the quality of water intended for human consumption, whether in its original state or after processing. It lays down maximum admissible concentration levels and guide levels for 62 microbiological, physical and chemical parameters and minimum required concentrations for an additional four. Member States have to ensure regular monitoring of water quality using the methods of analysis as set out in the Annex. Natural mineral waters and medicinal waters are not covered by the Directive. Both DIRECTIVES 75/440/EEC and 80/778/EEC have been fully implemented by all Member States.

A proposal COM(94)612 Drinking Water (for a Directive amending Directive 80/778/EEC) is currently under discussion which will adapt Directive 80/778/EEC to scientific progress and extend it to all water for domestic use. The proposal will set out stricter minimum requirements within microbiological, chemical and indicator parameters; e.g., the permitted lead content of drinking water would be reduced from 50ug to 10ug per litre. Member States will have to abide by the standards, monitor water quality regularly and identify sources of pollution. Standards would apply at point of supply (i.e., consumers taps).

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 76/160/EEC: (QUALITY OF BATHING WATER) was introduced on foot of the European Community's first Environmental Action Programme and defined bathing water standards, establishing 19 physical, chemical and microbiological parameters for the quality of bathing water. Member States were allowed a period of 10 years within which to ensure these standards were met. The Directive set out the methods for monitoring and inspecting bathing water quality in its Annex. Directive 91/692/EEC introduced new requirements on procedures and reporting frequencies on the quality of bathing water in Member States.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 78/659/EEC: (FRESH WATER FOR FISH); the aim of this Directive is to set quality objectives for fresh waters so as to protect fish life from the discharge of pollutant substances into waters. The Directive laid out sampling and monitoring procedures and definitions of conformity between Member States. Under the Directive, Member States must designate fresh waters needing protection in order to support fish life. Council Directive 79/923/EEC (Quality of Shellfish Waters) is intended to protect and improve the quality of coastal and brackish waters (again designated by Member States) for shellfish growth

ECOLOGICAL QUALITY OF WATER: COM (93) 0680

This proposal aims to define European standards of surface water by criteria other than those already subject to existing directives (e.g. drinking water directive, bathing water directive etc.). It requires Member States to define quality objectives for all surface water, to set up water monitoring and control systems together with an inventory of pollution sources, and to prepare and implement a series of programmes to improve water quality.

 

B. DIRECTIVES WHICH SOUGHT TO LIMIT OR PROHIBIT DISCHARGES OF DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES INTO WATERS BY INDUSTRIAL PLANTS.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 76/464/EEC (Dangerous Substance Discharges) established two lists of substances classified as hazardous. List I identified 129 substances to be eliminated from the environment because of their toxicity and their bio-accumulation. List II contained those which have a detrimental impact on the environment but which may be contained within a given area depending on the characteristics and location of the area. The Directive required Member States to draw up authorisation limits for emissions of substances on both lists. In the case of List I the limit values were to be at least equivalent to those adopted by the European Community Council. The aim was to eliminate pollution by these substances. With regard to List II substances, the Member States were to set up pollution programmes with the aim of reducing pollution from these emissions. The Directive set up a framework for the elimination or reduction of discharges of dangerous substances to inland and coastal waters through six ‘daughter directives which established emission limits for specific substances on List I of the Annex to the Directive. Council Directive 86/280/EEC set limit values and quality objectives for discharges of certain substances included in List I of the Annex to Directive 76/464/EEC. Council Directive 88/347/EEC amended Annex II to Directive 86/280/EEC which was further amended under Council Directive 90/415/EEC.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 80/68/EEC (GROUNDWATER) replaced Article 4 of Council Directive 76/464/EEC. Groundwater supplies 25% of Irelands drinking water and 70% of the Communitys drinking water as a whole. Its aim is to prevent the direct or indirect introduction of substances in List I and limit the substances in List II of the Annex to groundwater supplies. In 1991, EC environment ministers mandated the Commission to draw up an action programme for protecting groundwater as Directive 80/68/EEC regulates the discharge of substances to groundwater supplies but does not set quality standards for groundwater itself. A proposal for an Action Programme for the protection and management of groundwater (COM(96)315) is before the Commission which will revise and expand Directive 80/68/EEC. It will represent an integrated approach to the protection of groundwater and will become part of the overall approach of the draft Community Water Policy Framework Directive.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 82/176/EEC (MERCURY) was the first ‘daughter directive and laid down limit values for emissions of mercury discharged from industrial plants which produce chlorine by electrolysing alkali chlorides. It also set quality objectives for mercury in the aquatic environment, reference methods for measurement and monitoring procedures, and a monitoring procedure. Council Directive 84/156/EEC - (Mercury) governed emissions of mercury from industrial processes other than the chlor-alkali process;

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 83/513/EEC (CADMIUM) lays down limit values for discharges of Cadmium;

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 84/491/EEC (HEXACHLOROCYCLOHEXANE DISCHARGES) lays down limit values and quality objectives in relation to discharges of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH);

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 86/85/EEC (DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES DISCHARGES) lays down limit values and quality objectives for carbon tetrachloride, DDT and pehtachlorphenol.

Further substances were added to the list with Council Directives 88/347/EEC and 90/415/EEC.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 91/271/EEC (MUNICIPAL WASTE WATER TREATMENT): The aim of this Directive is to reduce the pollution caused to EU surface waters by municipal waste. Under the Directive, Member States are required to ensure that all waste waters are properly collected and subjected to secondary or equivalent treatment before being discharged into estuaries or coastal waters. It sets deadlines (ranging from 1995 to 2005) for urban areas of different population levels. It establishes requirements for urban waste water treatment plants and sets controls on discharges of industrial waste water into urban waste water treatment plants. It also requires that Member States identify sensitive areas by the end of 1993 - sensitive areas are classified as those subject to eutrophication and those waters used for drinking water which might not meet the requirements of other Council Directives.

 

C. PROVISIONS ON MARINE POLLUTION WHICH AIM PRIMARILY TO PUT AN END TO POLLUTION, PROTECT THE NORTH SEA, THE BALTIC AND THE MEDITERRANEAN AND TO PREVENT POLLUTION FROM LAND-BASES SOURCES.

COUNCIL DECISION 75/437/EEC approved the Paris Convention. Its aim was to prevent marine pollution from land-based sources (i.e. that emanating from watercourses, underwater pipelines and ports) to the north-east Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, the North and Baltic Seas and parts of the Mediterranean. This was extended in 1986 to cover marine pollution by emissions into the atmosphere. Three categories of polluting substances are listed under Annex A.

A proposal on the introduction of emergency procedures to combat marine pollution by oil and other pollutants following accidents has been under consideration since 1983, but a set of measures has yet to be agreed by the Council of Ministers for the Environment. In 1990 it was agreed to impose a total ban by 1993 on the dumping of industrial waste in the North Sea though it will be permitted to dump PCBs until 1999.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 87/217/EEC (ASBESTOS) lays down measures for the prevention and reduction of environmental pollution by asbestos and set limits for the emissions of asbestos into the sea and aquatic environment.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 91/676/EEC (PREVENTION OF POLLUTION BY NITRATES) provides for the monitoring of nitrate concentrations in fresh waters and the designation by Member States of 'vulnerable zones which have been, or are likely to be affected. These vulnerable zones are those areas within their territories which drain into waters affected by pollution and contribute to the pollution. Member States were to comply with the provisions of the Directive by December 1993.

The EU has ratified the UN Economic Commission for Europes convention of the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and lakes which was agreed in 1992. The convention requires parties to prevent, control and reduce transboundary impact on watercourses and lakes. In 1995 Council Decision 95/308/EC on the protection of transboundary watercourses and international lakes was passed.

DIRECTIVE 94/79/EC amended Directive 91/414/EEC (see Chemicals) concerning the guidelines for authorisation procedures for biocidal products for non-agricultural use. This Directive seeks to harmonise the various national regulations in existence so as to ensure the free circulation of biocidal products and to guarantee a high level of protection of the quality of water intended for human consumption.

DIRECTIVE 96/61/EC on INTEGRATED POLLUTION CONTROL aims to “modify and supplement existing Community legislation concerning the prevention and control of pollution from industrial plants” in order to achieve “an integrated approach to pollution prevention so as to preserve and improve the quality of the environment, protect human health and to ensure a rational utilisation of natural resources. It lays down the criteria by which Member States will grant operating licences to a range of industries and processes which come within its scope. The impacts of emissions to all media (air, water and soil) have to be taken into consideration and minimised in an integrated fashion, without putting an undue pollution load on any one media. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the implementation of Integrated Pollution Control Licensing in Ireland under the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992. The Act sets out the guiding principles which must be applied and lists 61 classes of industrial, process and agricultural activities which are subject to IPC licensing. The licensing of established activities commenced in September 1994 and by mid-1997 some 102 activities had received IPC licences in Ireland.

 

PROPOSAL FOR A WATER QUALITY FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE (COM(97)49)

The Commission is currently drawing up a Water Quality Framework Directive which will provide the basis of all future Community water legislation. The proposed Directive will address both quality and quantity issues. The aim of the Directive will be to ensure the quality of EU waters by 2010 an Annex to the Directive will contain quality standards and limits for substances which must not be exceeded. The Directive will also require that the price of water reflect its true cost by 2010 with no cross-subsidies between industry, agriculture and households. The Directive would contain both environmental quality standards and emissions limit values from point sources. The Framework Directive would repeal by 2007 Directives 75/440/EEC; 77/795/EEC; 78/659/EEC; 79/869/EEC; 79/923 and 80/68/EEC.

 

 

Pollution

Contaminants can enter water bodies in a variety of ways. These include discharges from sewage works and industrial plants at identifiable point sources; intermittent discharges from sources such as storm flows and land run-off; continuous leaching from surrounding ground including pollutants in the groundwater entering the system; deposition from the air e.g. acid rain; accidental or deliberate spillages or dumping, and releases from dead or decaying aquatic flora and fauna.

Most cases of water pollution in Ireland are caused by discharges into our waters of non-toxic organic matter, sewage, manure slurry, agricultural/food production wastes and silage effluent, which lead to deoxygenation. Eutrophication, or over-enrichment of waters by nutrients (mainly nitrate and phosphates) derived from sewage effluent, or through the leaching of these nutrients from manure slurries and artificial fertilisers, can lead to the stimulation of weed and algal growth which can ultimately cause deoxygenation. There has been a gradual increase in eutrophication of lakes and rivers in Ireland, caused mainly by inadequate sewage treatment and agricultural intensification. Twenty-two per cent of rivers were affected in this way in 1992, compared with only fourteen per cent in 1983. Toxic pollution, though not very frequent in this country, causes direct poisoning and its effects are generally direct and immediately apparent.

In Ireland around 25% of the water used comes from groundwater. This is a valuable resource and should be carefully protected. It is generally less easily polluted than lakes or river but tends to remain polluted for much longer once pollution occurs. In urban areas one of the greatest threats to groundwater is that posed by the noxious leachate generated by domestic refuse in dumps or landfills. Other sources of urban threats include accidental spillages, leaking sewers and underground storage containers. In rural areas badly constructed or sited septic tanks and silage effluent constitute the principal groundwater pollutants.

 

 

Irish Legislation

Water consumption in Ireland is growing and is likely to double by the end of the century. Pollution is directly related to water use.

The Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, (No. 1 of 1977 as amended by the 1990 Act) came into operation on 18 July 1990 and provides the principal legal framework for the prevention and control of water pollution. This act includes a general prohibition against water pollution as well as provisions on licensing direct and indirect discharges, water quality standards and management plans. It increased maximum penalties for summary conviction and indictment to £1,000 and £25,000 respectively. Under the Act, polluters may also have to pay the cost of the prosecuting authority and for measures to redress the damage caused by pollution. All sections with the exception of Section 25 (which provides a reserve power for the Minister for the Environment to establish Water Control Authorities) and Section 34, have been brought into force.

It is the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency and the local authorities to ensure that water quality is preserved and protected, though other interests, for example fishery interests, also have certain powers. The key to the resolution of water problems is control by the enforcement of national and EU standards, by water quality management planning, by the licensing and policing of discharges, by following approved agricultural procedures and by public environmental awareness.

 

In its report, Sustainable Development A Strategy for Ireland (published in May 1997), the Department of the Environment outlines new legislation which will be put in place protect our water resources. These include:

 

- New regulations under the Water Pollution Acts which will set water quality standards for a range of polluting substances, including phosphorus. The standards will allow the competent authorities (local authorities and the EPA) to devise and implement strategies to deal with different sources of pollution, including agriculture.

- New regulations will be made under the Waste Management Act, 1996 which should have a knock-on impact on the state of our water resources.

- The forthcoming Fisheries (Amendment) Bill will establish a system for the regulation of aquaculture.

- Under the Dumping at Sea Act, 1996, disposal of sewage sludge will be prohibited from 31 December 1998. Dumping of radioactive or toxic substances and the incineration of substances at sea is already prohibited under the Act.

- The UN ECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes will be ratified in 1997.

 

The following initiatives to protect and improve water quality have also been outlined in the report:

 

- An integrated catchment management initiative was launched in 1997 which will be implemented by local authorities to address deteriorating water quality trends in different catchments.

- Cohesion funding has been approved for a series of projects which will improve sewage collection and treatment near important rivers.

- The EPA is in the process of preparing an updated methodology for water quality management plans.

- The EPA will also review discharges to waters to assess discharges of nutrients and toxic substances.

- The EPA will coordinate a national groundwater programme which will establish the extent of our groundwater resources, their quality and recommend steps for their protection.

- The competent bodies will be rigorous in ensuring compliance with statutory water quality objectives and standards.

- In the agricultural sector, nutrient management planning will be promoted, with particular regard to the revised phosphorous and nitrogen application rates for grassland.

 

 

SEWAGE TREATMENT

 

Around 68% of the population of Ireland live in urban areas and are connected to sewerage systems. The balance live in rural areas and use septic tanks for treatment of sewage. The capacities of sewerage treatment plants in Ireland vary quite substantially - from those with a capacity of less than 2,000 p.e. (p.e. meaning population equivalent), to a small number with the capacity to process over 10,000 p.e. There are 619 sewerage schemes in the country serving populations greater than 200. All schemes which discharge to inland waters have treatment plants. Of the 619, 95 have no treatment (these discharge to tidal waters); 218 have primary treatment; 289 have secondary treatment; and 17 have tertiary treatment.

The State of the Environment report, published by the EPA in February 1996, has indicated that significant upgrading of sewage treatment facilities will be necessary in order to meet the requirements of Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste water treatment, particularly with regard to discharges to tidal waters.

 

 

European Legislation

 

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 73/404/EEC of 22 November 1973 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to detergents.

COUNCIL DECISION 75/437/EEC of 3 March 1975 concluding the Convention for the prevention of marine pollution from land-based sources.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 75/440/EEC of 16 June 1975 concerning quality required of surface water intended for the abstraction of drinking water in the Member States.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 76/160/EEC of 8 December 1975 concerning the quality of bathing water.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 76/464/EEC of 4 May 1976 on pollution caused by certain dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environmental of the Community.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 77/585/EEC of 25 July 1977 concluding the Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution and the Protocol for the prevention of the pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 77/586/EEC of 25 July 1977 concluding the Convention for the protection of the Rhine against chemical pollution and an Additional Agreement, signed in Berne on 29 April 1963, concerning the International Commission for the protection of the Rhine against pollution.

COUNCIL DECISION 77/795/EEC of 12 December 1977 establishing a common procedure for the exchange of information on the quality of surface fresh water in the Community.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 78/659/EEC of 18 July 1978 on the quality of fresh waters needing protection or improvement in order to support fish life.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 79/869/EEC of 9 October concerning the methods of measurement and frequencies of sampling and analysis of surface water intended for the abstraction of drinking water in Member States.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 79/923/EEC of 30 October on the quality required of shellfish waters.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 80/68/EEC of 17 December 1979 on the protection of groundwater against pollution by certain dangerous substances.

COUNCIL DECISION 80/686/EEC of 17 December 1979 setting up an Advisory Committee on the control and reduction of pollution caused by hydrocarbons discharged at sea.

COUNCIL DECISION 85/208/EEC of 25 March 1985 amending Decision 80/686/EEC.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 80/778/EEC of 15 July 1980 relating to the quality of water intended for human consumption.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 81/420/EEC of 19 May 1981 on the conclusion of the Protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency.

COUNCIL DECISION 81/971/EEC of 3 December 1981 establishing a Community information system for the control and reduction of pollution caused by hydrocarbons discharged at sea.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 82/176/EEC of 22 March 1982 on limit values and quality objectives for mercury discharges by Chlor-alkali electrolysis industry.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 82/242/EEC of 31 March 1982 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to methods of testing the biodegradability of non-ionic surfactants COUNCIL DECISION 83/101/EEC of 28 February 1983 concluding the Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution from land-based sources.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 83/513/EEC of 26 September 1983 on limit values and quality objectives for cadmium discharges.

COUNCIL DECISION 84/132/EEC of 1 March 1984 on the conclusion of the Protocol concerning Mediterranean specially protected areas.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 84/156/EEC of 8 March 1984 on limit values and quality objectives for mercury discharges by sectors other than the chlor-alkali electrolysis industry.

COUNCIL DECISION 84/358/EEC of 28 June 1984 on the Agreement for cooperation in dealing with pollution of the North Sea by oil and other harmful substances (Bonn Agreement).

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 84/491/EEC of 9 October on limit values and quality objectives for discharges of hexachlorocyclohexane.

COUNCIL DECISION 85/613/EEC of 20 December 1985 concerning the adoption, on behalf of the Community, of programmes and measures relating to mercury and cadmium discharges under the Convention for the prevention of marine pollution from land-based sources.

COUNCIL DECISION 86/85/EEC of 6 March 1986 establishing a Community information system for the control and redacting of pollution caused by the spillage of hydrocarbons and other harmful substances at sea.

Council Directive 86/278/EEC, on the protection of the environment, particularly of the soil, when sewage sludge is used in agriculture.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 86/280/EEC of 12 June 1986 on limit values and quality objectives for discharges of certain dangerous substances included in List I of the Annex to Directive 76/464/EEC.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 87/217/EEC (ASBESTOS) requires Member States to ensure that emissions of asbestos to various media (air, water etc.) and solid asbestos waste are as far as possible prevented by means of reduction at source. Monitoring methods for emissions of asbestos to air and water are established. This Directive is intended to supplement restrictions on asbestos set out in Directive 76/769/EEC.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 88/347/EEC of 16 June 1988 amending Annex II to Directive 86/280/EEC.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 90/415/EEC of 27 July 1990 amending Annex II to Directive 86/280/EEC on limit values and quality objectives for discharges of certain dangerous substances included in List I of the Annex to Directive 76/464/EEC.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 90/656/EEC of 4 December 1990 on the transitional measures applicable in Germany with regard to certain Community provisions relating to the protection of the environment.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste water treatment.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 91/692/EEC of 23 December 1991 standardising and rationalising reports on the implementation of certain Directives relating to the environment.

COMMISSION DECISION 92/446/EEC of 27 July 1992 concerning questionnaires relating to Directives in the water sector.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 93/75/EEC of 13 September 1993 concerning minimum requirements for vessels bound for or leaving community ports and carrying dangerous or polluting goods.

COMMISSION DECISION 93/481/EEC of 28 July 1993 concerning formats for the presentation of national programmes as foreseen by Article 17 of Council Directive 91/271/EEC.

COMMISSION REGULATION (EEC) No. 2158/93 of 28 July 1993 concerning the application of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 and to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships, 1973, for the purpose of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 613/91.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 94/79/EC amends Directive 91/414/EEC concerning the guidelines for authorisation procedures for biocidal products for non-agricultural use.

COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1909/95 of July 1995 amending, for the 17th time, Regulation (EEC) no 3094/86 laying down certain technical measures for the conservation of fishery resources.

COUNCIL DECISION 95/308/EC of 24 July 1995 on the conclusion, on behalf of the Community, of the Convention on the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes.

COMMISSION DECISION 95/355/EC of 25 July 1995 amending Decision 92/446/EEC of 27July 1992 concerning questionnaires relating to directives in the water sector.

COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 2250/95 of 18 September 1995 amending for the fifth time Regulation (EEC) No. 1866/86 laying down certain technical measures for the conservation of fisheries resources in the waters of the Baltic Sea, the Belts and the Sound.

COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 2251/95 of 18 September 1995 amending for the 18th time Regulation (EEC) No. 3094 laying down certain technical measures for the conservation of fisheries resources.

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control.

COUNCIL DECISION 96/91/EC of 22 January 1996 concerning the approval of the amendment to Article VII of the Convention on fishing and conservation of the living resources in the Baltic Sea and the belts.

COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No. 894/97 of 29 April 1997 laying down certain technical measures for the conservation of fishery resources.

 

RESOLUTIONS

COUNCIL RESOLUTION of 3 March 1975 on the convention for the prevention of marine pollution from land-based sources.

COUNCIL RESOLUTION of 26 June 1978 establishing an action programme of the EC on the control and reduction of pollution caused by hydrocarbons discharged at sea.

COUNCIL RESOLUTION of 7 February 1983 on the campaign against water pollution.

COUNCIL RESOLUTION of 19 June 1990 on the prevention of accidents causing marine pollution.

COUNCIL RESOLUTION of 25 February 1992 on the future Community groundwater policy.

COUNCIL RESOLUTION of 20 February 1995 on groundwater protection.

RESOLUTION of the Council and the representative of the Governments of the Member States of the European Communities, meeting within the Council of 3 October 1984, on new forms of cooperation in the sphere of water.

 

CONVENTIONS

Convention concerning the International Commission for the Rhine (Berne Convention).

Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution from land-based sources (Paris Convention)

Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 1974 (Helsinki Convention).

Convention on the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution (Barcelona Convention).

Protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency.

Convention for the protection of the Rhine against chemical pollution (signed in Bonn on 3 December 1976).

Additional Agreement to the Agreement, signed in Berne on 29 April 1963, concerning the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution.

Convention of the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources.

Convention for the Conservation of Salmon in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution from land-based sources.

Convention on fishing and conservation of the living resources in the Baltic Sea and the Belts.

Protocol to the Conference of the representatives of the States Parties to the Convention on fishing and conservation of living resources in the Baltic Sea and the Belts (Warsaw, 9-11 November, 1982).

Agreement for cooperation in dealing with pollution of the North Sea by oil and other harmful substances (Bonn Agreement).

International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

Convention of the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 1992.

 

Irish Legislation

The main framework for the prevention of pollution of our waters is contained in the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977 (No. 1 of 1977) and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) (Amendment) Act, 1990. (No. 21 of 1990). These prohibit water pollution and contain provisions on the licensing of discharges to waters and to sewers, water quality management plans, civil liability of polluters and bye-laws regulating agriculture. All sections of the 1990 amendment came into force on its enactment on 18 July 1990, except sections 4-6 and 13-16 inclusive, which came into operation on 1 November 1992.

 

Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977 (Commencement) Order, 1977 (S.I. No. 117 of 1977), Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order, 1977, (S.I. No. 296 of 1977) and Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment Act), 1990 (Commencement) Order, 1992 (S.I. No. 296 of 1977) brought sections of the Act into operation in May 1977, April 1978 and November 1992 respectively.

 

Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977 (Fixing of Dates) Order, 1978 (S.I. No. 16 of 1978).

 

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (QUALITY OF WATER INTENDED FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION) Regulations, 1971 (S.I. No. 119 of 1971). Setting of quality standards which must be met by all water supplies either intended for consumption or for use in food production where the wholesomeness of the food is affected by the quality of the water used.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) Act, 1977 (Transfer of Appeals) Order, 1978 (S.I. No. 96 of 1978). This order provided that appeals under sections 8 and 20 of the 1977 Act shall be brought before An Bord Plean‡la. (Transfer of Appeals) Order, 1978 (Amendment) Order, (S.I. No. 37 of 1983) applied certain provisions of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1982, to water pollution appeals made to An Bord Plean‡la. LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) (Transfer of Appeals) (Revocation) Order, 1992 (S.I. No. 272 of 1992) revoked, from 1 November 1992, the above acts.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) Regulations, 1978 (S.I. No. 108 of 1978) concerned procedural matters regarding licensing, registration and appeals. LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) Regulations, 1992 (S.I. No. 271 of 1992) came into operation on 1 November 1992, and concern procedural matters under the Water Pollution Acts regarding licensing applications, reviews and appeals to An Bord Plean‡la. The regulations set time limits for decision on licence applications by local and sanitary authorities and for determinations in the case of appeals by An Bord Plean‡la. The regulations specify applicable fees. Part IV makes provision for the control of discharge of harmful substances to groundwaters, implementing Directive 80/68/EEC on the protection of groundwater.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) (Control of Cadmium Discharges) Regulations, 1985 (S.I. No. 294 of 1985). Prescription of water quality standards to be applied by local authorities when licensing discharges of effluents containing cadmium to waters, excluding aquifers, and to sewers. They give effect to Directive 83/513/EEC of 26 September 1983 on limit values and quality objectives for cadmium discharges.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) Act, 1977 (Control of Hexachlorocyclohexane and Mercury Discharges) Regulations, 1986 (S.I. No. 55 of 1986). These regulations implement Directives 84/419/EEC of 9/10/84 on hexachlorocyclohexane discharges and 84/156/EEC of 8/3/84 on mercury discharges by sectors other then the chlor-alkali electrolysis industry.

 

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (NATURAL MINERAL WATERS) Regulations 1986, implementing EC Directive 80/777/EEC.

 

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (DETERGENTS) Regulations 1984-88, implementing EC Directives 73/404/EEC, 73/405/EEC, 78/404/EEC, 82/243/EEC and 86/94/EEC.


EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (QUALITY OF WATER INTENDED FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION) Regulations 1988, (S.I. No. 88 of 1988) set quality standards for water intended for human consumption or for use in food production.

 

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (QUALITY OF SURFACE WATER INTENDED FOR THE ABSTRACTION OF DRINKING WATERS) Regulations 1989, (S.I. No. 294 of 1989), implementing EC Directives 75/440/EEC and 79/869/EEC.

 

QUALITY OF BATHING WATERS Regulations, 1992 (S.I. No. 155 of 1992). The regulations gave effect to Directive 76/160/EEC concerning the quality of bathing water. QUALITY OF BATHING WATERS (Amendment) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 145 of 1994) amends the above regulations, adding 22 bathing areas to the 94 areas listed under the act which are required to meet specified standards, sampling programmes and analysis and inspection criteria. QUALITY OF BATHING WATERS (Amendment) Regulations, 1996, further amends the 1992 Regulations to include another eight bathing areas bringing the total to 124.

 

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (QUALITY OF SALMONID WATERS) Regulations, 1988 (S.I. No. 293 of 1988). These regulations set quality standards for salmonid waters and designate the waters to which they apply together with the sampling programmes and the methods of analysis and inspection to be used by local authorities to determine compliance with the standards. They implement Directive 78/659/EEC of 18 July 1978 on the quality for fresh water for fish.

 

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (CONTROL OF WATER POLLUTION BY ASBESTOS) Regulations 1990 (S.I. No. 31 of 1990). Give effect to EC Directive 87/217/EEC of 19 March 1987. They impose a general obligation to prevent the entry of asbestos to waters and specify the measures to be applied to certain industrial plant using asbestos, as well as providing for the monitoring of effluent from industrial plant.

 

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (USE OF SEWAGE SLUDGE IN AGRICULTURE) Regulations 1991 (S.I. No. 183 of 1991), implementing EC Directive 86/278/EEC, which relates to the protection of the environment, particularly of the soil, when sewage sludge is used in agriculture.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) Acts, 1977 and 1990 (Control of Aldrin, Dieldrin, Endrin, Isodrin, HCB, HCBD and CHCL3 Discharges) Regulations, 1993 (S.I. No. 348 of 1993). Lists quality standards to be applied by local and sanitary authorities when licensing discharges of effluents containing the above-mentioned substances to waters or sewers under the provisions of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, as amended by the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act, 1990. This implements Council Directive 88/347/EEC on limit values and quality objectives for discharges of certain dangerous substances included in List I of the Annex to Council Directive 76/464/EEC.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) Act, 1977 and 1990 (Control of Carbon Tetrachloride, DDT and Pentachlorophenol Discharges) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 43 of 1994). Lists quality standards to be applied by local and sanitary authorities when licensing discharges of effluents containing the above-mentioned substances to waters or sewers under the provisions of the Local Government. Implements Council Directive 86/280/EEC on limit values and quality objectives for discharges of certain dangerous substances included in List I of the Annex to Council Directive 76/464/EEC.

 

QUALITY OF SHELLFISH WATERS Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 200 of 1994). Set quality standards for shellfish waters and designation of the waters to which they apply, as well as sampling and analysis procedures to determine compliance with the standards, giving effect to Council Directive 79/923/EEC of 30 October 1979.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WATER POLLUTION) Acts, 1977 and 1990 (Control of EDC, TRI, PER and TCB Discharges) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 245 of 1994). Sets quality standards to be applied by local and sanitary authorities when licensing discharges of effluents containing the above-mentioned substances to waters or sewers under the relevant Acts (see S.I. No. 43 of 1994 above), giving effect to Council Directive 90/415/EEC on limit values and quality objectives for discharges of certain dangerous substances included in List I of the Annex to Council Directive 76/464/EEC.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, (Commencement) Order, 1996 brought into operation from January 1996, section 34 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977 allowing for the repeal of the Rivers Pollution Prevention Acts of 1876 and 1893.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Regulations, 1996 (amending provisions on the discharge of effluent to sewers and on the control of discharges to acquifers).

 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ACT, 1992 (Urban Waste Water Treatment) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 419 of 1994). Sets requirements for the provision of collecting systems and treatment standards and other requirements for urban waste water treatment plants, generally and in sensitive areas (10 water bodies are identified as sensitive areas). Also, it establishes monitoring procedures for treatment plants and sets provisions for pre-treatment requirements for industrial waste water entering collecting systems and urban waste water treatment plants. Implements Council Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste water treatment.

 

The legal framework relating to the supply of water supplies and disposal and treatment of sewage by local authorities is contained in the LOCAL GOVERNMENT (SANITARY SERVICES) ACTS, 1878-1964. Other relevant legislation includes:

 

FISHERIES (CONSOLIDATION) ACT, 1959, (No. 14 of 1959) as amended by the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1962 (No. 31 of 1962) and by the Fisheries Act, 1980 (No. 1 of 1980). Sections 171 and 172 of the 1959 Act make it an offence to deposit deleterious matter, as defined, in waters. The Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act, 1990, increased the penalties for committing offences under these sections after 18 July 1990.

 

HARBOURS ACT, 1946 (No. 9 of 1946).

 

FISHERIES HARBOUR CENTRES ACTS, 1968 AND 1980.

 

OIL POLLUTION OF THE SEA ACT, 1956 (No. 25 of 1956). Gave effect to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1954 and other measures including prohibition on the discharge of oil anywhere at sea.

 

OIL POLLUTION OF THE SEA (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1965 (No. 1 of 1965). Gave effect to some amendments of the 1954 convention, including prohibition of the discharge of oil anywhere at sea, subject to specified exceptions.

 

OIL POLLUTION OF THE SEA (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1977, (No., 15 of 1977). Gives the Minister for the Marine powers to prevent or mitigate oil pollution at sea, giving effect to the International Convention relating to Intervention on the High Seas in cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, 1969, and some amendments of the 1954 Convention.

 

OIL POLLUTION OF THE SEA (CIVIL LIABILITY AND COMPENSATION) ACT, 1988 (No. 11 of 1988). Ensures that oil tankers entering or leaving Irish Ports have adequate insurance to cover their liability for oil pollution damage and to provide supplemental cover where insurance liability is exceeded, giving effect to the Civil Liability Convention, 1969, and to the Fund Convention, 1971, and its 1976 Protocols.

 

CONTINENTAL SHELF ACT, 1968 (No. 14 of 1968). Section 7 of this makes it an offence if oil is discharged or escapes into the sea during the exploration of the continental shelf.

 

DUMPING AT SEA ACT, 1981 (No. 8 of 1981).

 

SEA POLLUTION ACT, 1991 (No. 27 of 1991). Ratifies the Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Shops (MARPOL).

Top of Page