Saturday 15 June 2019

Just two golf courses and 10pc of farmers admit using water from rivers

One golf course used 1,000,000 litres a day as drought peaked. Stock Image
One golf course used 1,000,000 litres a day as drought peaked. Stock Image
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Only one in 10 farmers and two golf courses from a possible 300 have told the environmental watchdog they are extracting large volumes of water from rivers, lakes and groundwater sources.

New rules obliging individuals or companies which abstract more than 25,000 litres every day for drinking or other purposes to register are designed to ensure abstractions are sustainable.

The importance of the register is highlighted by low water levels which arose during the summer drought, when drinking supplies in many parts of the country were on a knife-edge. But new figures show that despite there being 3,000 abstraction points across the country, only 2,200 have been registered. Just a handful of farmers and golf courses, have signed up to the new system, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.

There is no fee to register, but those who refuse can be hit with a fine of up to €5,000.

The rules apply from large users such as Irish Water to businesses including hotels, sports clubs or individual farmers. While there is no need for a farmer to register if they are abstracting water to dilute animal slurry, if more than 25,000 litres a day are being drawn from water sources to irrigate crops or provide drinking water for animals, registration is required.

EPA figures show that, as of November 30 last, some 1,359 abstraction registrations had been made, which relate to some 2,200 abstraction points.

The River Basin Management Plan suggested there were 3,000 abstraction points, and the figures to date suggest two-thirds have been have registered. They also show:

:: Of the 1,359 registrations, 998 (73pc) are abstractions for the provision of drinking water;

:: Most public and group water supply schemes appear to have been registered;

:: But only 67 agricultural abstractions have been registered, less than 10pc of the estimate in the Government's River Basin Management Plan 2018-21;

:: The Government expected more than 300 golf courses to register, but just two have. One golf course used a million litres of water a day at the height of the summer drought.

"Overall, this highlights that further efforts are required to increase the number of abstraction registrations in both the agricultural and golf course sectors, and the EPA is working to increase the number of registrations from these sectors," EPA spokesman Matthew Craig said.

The EPA also believes small businesses and some public authorities may not have registered. These could include schools, public buildings or gardens open to the public.

Irish Independent

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