To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the measures he has taken to review the research budget of the EPA on water management and conservation in line with the recommendations by the Oireachtas Committee on the Funding of Domestic Water Services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as environmental regulator, is responsible for setting quality standards and enforcing compliance with EU Directives and national regulations for drinking water supplies and wastewater discharges to water bodies. Irish Water is the lead authority in relation to the management and conservation of public water supplies.
My Department engages on an ongoing basis with the EPA in relation to its role in respect of water and wastewater services, including with regard to the resource implications arising from its responsibilities. Under its Water Quality Programme, my Department funds the EPA to conduct a range of activities to facilitate and support the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive, including the water quality monitoring of rivers, lakes, estuaries and groundwater.
In relation to research matters it should be noted that funding for the EPA's research programme on climate, sustainability and water is allocated under the Vote of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. Proposals in relation to water related research are evaluated by the Water Research Co-ordination Group, which includes representation from my Department together with other relevant Departments and agencies and which takes on board national policy on water conservation as set out in the Water Services Policy Statement 2018-2025, which in turn takes account of the 2017 Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services which was approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas.
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