Groundwater in Ireland is protected under European Community and national legislation. Local authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have responsibility for enforcing this legislation. The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Local Government (DoELG) and the EPA have developed a methodology for the preparation of groundwater protection schemes to assist the statutory authorities and others to meet their responsibility to protect groundwater (DoELG/EPA/GSI, 1999). This methodology incorporates land surface zoning and groundwater protection responses.
These groundwater protection responses are concerned with the land spreading of organic fertilisers and wastes such as animal slurries from intensive farming enterprises, sewage sludges, poultry litter and industrial waste water treatment plant sludges. Most of these wastes are potentially beneficial to crops. However, they are also potentially polluting and if not correctly managed can present a risk to groundwater quality.
Guidance presented in this document is based on the precautionary principle. This guidance should be used to assist in selection and management of land spreading areas. Each land spreading programme will be unique and should take local factors into account in applying the responses.