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The Water Framework Directive, Directive 2000/60/EC, was adopted in 2000 as a single piece of legislation covering rivers, lakes, groundwater and transitional (estuarine) and coastal waters and includes heavily modified and artificial waterbodies. Its objectives are to prevent further deterioration of and to protect, enhance and restore the status of all bodies of water with the aim of achieving at least good status by 2015.
The Water Policy Regulations (S.I. No. 722 of 2003), Surface Waters Regulations (S.I. No. 272 of 2009) and Groundwater Regulations (S.I. No. 9 of 2010) govern the shape of the WFD characterisation, monitoring and status assessment programmes in terms of assigning responsibilities for the monitoring of different water categories, determining the quality elements and undertaking the characterisation and classification assessments.
The Surface Waters Regulations institute a wide-ranging set of environmental standards for Irish surface waters. The Groundwater Regulations establish environmental objectives to be achieved in groundwater bodies and include groundwater quality standards and threshold values for the classification of groundwater and the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration in groundwater quality.
Some of the main Irish Legislation and European Union (EU) Directives relating to water are listed below:
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