Water quality protection functions with local authorities
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Based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessments, surface waters and groundwaters continue to be under pressure from human activities; particularly from nitrogen and phosphorus from agriculture and urban waste water discharges. Under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) Ireland is required to manage waters on a river basin scale via River Basin Management Planning (RBMP), to protect rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters. RBMP requires cooperation across public bodies, including local authorities that historically worked solely within their geographical administrative areas. The success of RBMP depends to a great extent on the capacity of public bodies to develop effective plans, coordinate activities and share data, especially among staff engaged in day-to-day operational decision making. While responsibility for water quality encompasses a wide hierarchy of both private and public sector entities, this research focuses on local authorities, examining the dissemination of knowledge of key water quality metrics among local authority staff and the effectiveness in transferring the high level strategic vision of the RBMP into practical daily actions across the functions of local government.