A 6-week process of public consultation on the General Scheme of the Water Environment (Abstractions) Bill 2018 commenced on Friday, 31 August and a summary of the proposals, plus the General Scheme, is now published on the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s website.
The Water Environment (Abstractions) Bill 2018 provides for the introduction of a regime for the control of the abstraction of water on a risk-based approach, as signalled in the River Basin Management Plan published in April 2018, in order to comply with Ireland’s obligations under the Water Framework Directive.
Submissions are invited from stakeholders and interested parties and this process will inform the further development of the draft legislation. Following completion of the public consultation on 12 October 2018, detailed drafting of the Bill will commence and Minister Eoghan Murphy, TD hopes to formally publish the legislation in autumn 2018.
Minister Murphy said “While we are fortunate to have a low level of abstraction pressure compared to other EU member states, the current drought situation highlights the need for long-term good water resource management. The availability, and good management, of raw water in Ireland is critical to our environmental and developmental sustainability. “I look forward to receiving interested parties’ submissions on these proposals and to working with key stakeholders in the coming months on the development of a robust legislative control framework.”
The Minister also noted that a register of abstractions, to be managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, was formally established on 16 July 2018. Existing abstractors have until 16 November to register any abstraction of 25 cubic metres per day, or more, via an online portal. To put the 25 cubic metre threshold into context, it equates to the total daily water usage of approximately 100 households. Therefore, no individual household with a domestic well will need to register.
Registration is not intended to be a control mechanism in and of itself, nor does it signify consent by the Agency to an abstraction. However, it will enable the EPA to build up a nationwide picture of the extent and size of current abstractions in order to better manage abstractions in areas of high risk in future. No fee is payable for registration.