The Irish government made a significant advance in its efforts to reduce water pollution yesterday, by announcing the creation of multi-partner groups intended to improve water management in three major river catchments. The Catchment Management Steering Group announced by environment minister Noel Dempsey will set up management groups for the Boyne, Liffey and Suir catchments. This will double the number of catchments for which groups have been formed as part of a national I£185m (Ecu236m) water and sewerage investment programme (ENDS Daily 27 May 1997). A main aim of the initiative is to reduce phosphorus pollution. This summer the European Commission announced court action against Ireland for failing to comply with elements of the 1980 groundwater directive, which includes controls on phosphorus pollution (ENDS Daily 8 July). The key elements of Ireland's catchment-based strategy are the setting of environmental quality standards for rivers and lakes, provision of appropriate waste water treatment infrastructure, and initiatives to reduce phosphorous inputs. A computerised geographical information system (GIS) is to be used to manage and analyse all environmental data collected under the scheme and will become an important support tool for water quality managers, the government says.
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