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EPA criticizes low level of water quality inspections by councils – The Irish Times News Jani

EPA criticizes low level of water quality inspections by councils – The Irish Times

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has criticized the low level of water pollution inspections by local authorities despite declining water quality in lakes and rivers.

In a report published on Tuesday, the state’s environmental watchdog said many councils were not doing enough when it came to inspecting water, air and noise pollution.

The watchdog said water quality across Ireland was “in decline”, with levels of inspection by council staff considered “low”. Of the 42,000 inspections carried out last year, water quality was the focus of almost a fifth of environmental inspections.

More than 1,000 water bodies, such as lakes and rivers, were “adversely affected” by agriculture, the report said. Yet the number of farm inspections by councils was 43% below pre-Covid levels.

The number of complaints to local councils about poor water quality has increased by 14 per cent in the past year, the report said.

“Overall, the level of inspection and enforcement activity is low. This needs to be increased with better coordination of resources in this area,” he said.

The EPA said nine local authorities were failing in their inspections targeting pollution, with Offaly County Council scoring the lowest in the regulator’s review.

Other local authorities that ranked poorly were Mayo, Sligo, Wexford, Waterford, Tipperary, Laois, Roscommon and South Dublin County Council.

The watchdog said a “huge amount of resources” in local authorities was directed at dealing with more than 81,000 complaints from the public last year, most of which related to littering and littering.

Last year, 68 percent of inspections focused on waste, while 24 percent tested water quality. One in ten inspections related to air or noise pollution, the report said.

The EPA said maintaining staffing levels was a “constant challenge” for councils, which faced high employee turnover.

Overall, the number of inspections carried out by local authorities increased by 14 per cent to 205,000 last year.

The environmental watchdog said councils needed “stronger enforcement”, which would require more resources and make inspections a higher priority.

Five councils performing well were Kildare County Council, Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, Leitrim County Council and Monaghan County Council.

The report found that more than half of councils scored well in their efforts to tackle illegal dumping of waste.

The EPA said inspections of how construction and demolition waste was disposed of were “limited”, with many councils focusing only on parts of “a very broad enforcement area”.

David Pollard, EPA manager in environmental enforcement, said the results of the review of local councils were “quite mixed”.

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, “I don’t think we’ve had any local authority that has performed well across the board, equally we haven’t seen any local authority that has performed poorly. “

One problem, Mr Pollard said, is that the number of inspections is not translating into better environmental outcomes.

“So what we want to see is not just local authorities doing inspections, but where problems are found they follow up and the environment improves as a result,” he said.

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