Q&A: Agricultural Water Abstraction Registrations Well Short Of Expectations

About two-thirds of those expected to register water abstractions did so before November 30, said the Environmental Protection Agency last week.

But only 72 agricultural abstractions had been registered, less than 10% of the sectoral estimate in the River Basin Management Plan 2018-21.

With further efforts required to increase the number of abstraction registrations in the agricultural and golf course sectors, the EPA says it is working closely with the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government to increase the number of registrations from these sectors.

In 2019, the EPA will assess the registration database, to evaluate whether there are abstractions that should have been registered but, for whatever reason, were not registered, and will also work with the Department and other public authorities on engagement with people who have not yet registered.

In accordance with EU regulations, the EPA has been asked to establish and manage a national register of people who abstract more than 25 cubic meters (25,000 litres) of water each day (the Department says there are about 3,000 water abstractions of 25 cubic meters or more of water on a given day).

Why is a register of water abstractions being developed?

Responsible management of water resources involves ensuring that river flows, lake and groundwater levels can sustain aquatic environments, while allowing use of water for drinking water and other agricultural, commercial, industrial and recreational purposes.

To assess if water resources are being managed sustainably, it is important to know what volume is being abstracted.

The water abstraction register aims to capture this information, and the data will be used in conjunction with information on discharges, flow and water level data, and water status to identify any unsustainable abstractions that require active management.

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What constitutes a water abstraction?

Water being removed or diverted by mechanical means, pipe, or any engineering structure or works from any part of the water environment, including to another part of the water environment.

Why do I have to register my abstraction?

EU regulations state that if an abstraction owner fails to notify the Agency in relation to a water abstraction equal to or greater than 25 cubic meters each day, or knowingly provides false information, if found guilty of an offence, on summary conviction, they are liable to a Class A fine.

Is there a water abstraction register fee?

No.

What about water abstractions for dilution of animal slurry?

Following correspondence between the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) and the EPA, the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government confirmed to the EPA that water abstractions for dilution of animal slurry during agitation do not require registration.

However, agricultural water abstractions for other purposes, such as irrigation, or the provision of drinking water for animals, still require registration, if they are greater than 25 cubic meters of water per day.

What if I already submit information to the Agency or other public authorities in relation to my water abstraction?

Currently water abstraction information is not captured in a systematic manner and is not routinely updated. Therefore, there is a requirement for everyone to register their water abstraction, even if they have previously reported their water abstraction to a public authority.

Is there a closing date for registering my abstraction?

For new abstractions, there is a requirement to register within one month of commencement.

What information is required to complete my registration?

Information on the owner or manager of the abstraction and the registrant (if different) is required.

Basic information on the abstraction point(s),; maximum daily and annual abstraction volume; abstraction type and purpose, are also requested.

What is an abstraction point?

EU regulations define this as any borehole, well, sump or inlet pipe whose primary purpose is the supply of water for drinking or other purposes.

Where more than one abstraction point joins to form a combined water supply, this shall be construed as a single abstraction.

How do I calculate my abstraction volume?

Where abstraction volumes are not directly measured, the Quick Abstraction Volume Estimator provided on the EPA website can be used.

Will my data be shared with anyone?

Details on the registrants or their agents will not be shared, but information on the abstraction may be shared with other public authorities with responsibility for water management in Ireland.

(Source – Irish Examiner – Farming – Stephen Cadogan – 12/12/2018)

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