The primary role of the Section in this regard is in relation to the protection of waters from potential pollution.
Farms are usually targeted on the basis of a river catchment or the catchment to a public water supply scheme. In addition farm surveys may be carried out in response to a complaint alleging that agricultural pollution of waters is occurring.
From a legislative point of view, farm surveys are carried out to ensure compliance with:
- The EU Water Framework Directive
- European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2009
- Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977 to 2007
- Drinking water source protection – farms close to a drinking water source will be inspected to ensure protection of that source from contamination
- To secure the objectives set out in the River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021
Farm inspections can also be co-ordinated with the Local Authorities Waters & Communities Office (LAWCO) which was set up in 2016 to promote better management of our streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater for the benefit of present and future generations. The Waters and Communities Office operates as a shared service on behalf of all Local Authorities, with two key objectives:
- To coordinate the water quality work of Local Authorities through agreed regional structures, thereby providing a collaborative approach to river catchment management.
- To engage local communities and promote public participation in the management of our water environment.
The Waters and Communities Office employ Community Water Officers who work closely with local communities, public bodies, sectoral interests, Public Participation Networks (PPNs), Local Development Companies and other stakeholders to promote collaboration in the management of our natural water environment.