ASOSAI SEMINAR ON ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITING
(I) National Environmental Policy on Water and the actions adopted
Water is a vital prerequisite for human life .The importance of water for economic development ,public health and for the quality of ecosystems means that each government has the responsibility of seeing that basic services are provided and ensuring that the public receives an adequate supply of clean water for domestic use.
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus accomplishes the above by formulating a general policy ,legislation ,carrying out inspections ,issuing permits and imposing fees and fines.Cyprus is a member of the European Union since May 1,2004 and has done a lot of work towards harmonization of the relevant legislation and practice with those of the Community.
The Ministry of Agriculture , Natural Resources and Environment is responsible for formulating water policy.The main objectives of this policy is the rational development and management of the water resources of Cyprus.
Water Development Department
The Water Development Departrment comes under the Ministry of Agriculture , Natural Resources and Environment and is responsible for implementing the water policy of the government.In this context responsibilities of the department cover a wide and diverse spectrum which includes:
The collection ,processing and classification of hydrogeological geotechnical and other data necessary for the study ,maintenance and safety of the water development works.
The study ,design, construction , operation and maintenance of works, such as dams, ponds, irrigation, domestic water supply and sewerage schemes, water treatment works , sewerage treatment and desalination plants and
The protection of the water resources from pollution.
The legal framework in Cyprus has been enacted during the colonial era and still remains in force by virtue of the provisions of Article 188 of the Constitution.The existing Laws totalling around sixteen have the following provisions:
- All ground water and all surface water and wastewater resources are vested to the state.
The government has the power to construct waterworks and sell water at a price fixed by the Government and the Parliament.
The water rights are protected and riparian rights are given to those who can prove that they own such rights
The Laws give the right to private individuals to sink or construct wells or drill boreholes for ground water abstraction,after getting a permit from the District Officer.
The Laws give the right to individuals to form Irrigation Divisions or Associations to construct irrigation works .
The Laws give the right to villages and towns to form their own sewage and drainage Boards for the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage effluents.
Concerning environmental issues on water the Law no 69/91-‘Water pollution control ‘, provides for the reduction, control and abolition of water pollution for the best protection of the natural water resources and the health and wellbeing of the population.
Following are the main provisions of some of the most important Laws
-Government Waterworks Law (Cap.341)
This Law empowers the government to plan, design,construct , operate and maintain any waterworks, to sell water rights, to assess water rights, to fix water tariffs and to collect water sale bills.The Law vests all ground water to the Government.It also gives the power to the Council of Ministers to define the area to be benefited by any waterworks,and to construct the necessary waterworks for the development of the water resources, their regulation, distribution, and management of all water resources that are controlled by the said waterworks.
-Irrigation Division (Villages ) Law (Cap. 342)
This law is administered by the District Officer who is empowered to form Irrigation Divisions ,at his own instance or upon the written request of not less than ten land proprietors for the purpose of carrying out irrigation works .The Law provides for the planning ,design ,construction ,operation and maintenance of irrigation works for the supply of water to the proprietor’s land.
-Water Supply (Municipal and Other Areas) Law (Cap. 350)
This Law provides for the creation of Water Boards for the towns of Cyprus under the chairmanship of the District Officer.Under the Law the Water Board , governed by a Board of Directors under the Chairmanship of the District Officer, has the power to build its own waterworks for water development and water distribution.
-The Sewage and Drainage Law
This Law provides for the creation of Sewage Boards for the collection,treatment and disposal of sewage effluent and drainage water from areas defined by the Council of Ministers as ‘Sewage and Drainage Law Areas’.The Sewage Boards are responsible for the planning,design ,construction,operation and maintenance of all works required.
-Water Pollution Control ( Law no 69/91)
The Law provides for the abolition or reduction and control of water pollution in Cyprus ,for the best protection of the natural water resources and the health and well being of the population.It also provides for protection and improvement of the environment and the animal and plant life in water.Pollution of surface or groundwater is a criminal offence and people found guilty are subject to a fine up to £10.000 and/or to imprisonment up to one year.
b)The Environment Service
The Environment Service which also comes under the Ministry of Agriculture,Natural Resources and the Environment has the responsibility of the abolition, control and reduction of water pollution.This is mainly accomplished through legislation and regulations the most important of which is Law no 106 (I) /2002 .
The main objective of this Law is the protection of water from human and industrial activities as well as the control of industrial disposal of waste..
It came into effect on 12.07.02 and its main provisions are:
Measures for the protection of water
Maintenance and improvement of the quality of water in accordance with defined quality standards.
Control of quality of residues and way of their disposal through the granting of licence.
Obligations of licence owners.
Regular inspections of quality of water
Imposition of fines to those acting against the Law.
The above Law is harmonised with The European Union Environmental Framework Directive.
c)Department of Fisheries and Marine Research
The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research is responsible for combating pollution in the sea and ports whenever it occurs. It has all the necessary equipment stored near the ports, which can be deployed within a short period of time.The department has a contingency plan with assigned responsibilities to the various parties involved (Other government departments, non-government organisations, Ports Authority) and drills are carried out periodically.
II) Introduction on the case of environmental auditing on water carried out by The Audit Office of the Republic of Cyprus.
During 2001 The Audit Office of the Republic of Cyprus conducted a performance /environmental audit for the pollution of seas and ports from ships.
Cyprus is one of the international major Shipping Centres and has signed all the International Conventions for the safety of shipping activities and the protection of sea environment.The Cyprus Legislation contains the relative provisions for the adoption of the convention and fulfilment of obligations emanating from them.Legislation has also been harmonised with the relevant Directives of the European Union.
Audit Objectives of the audit were:
-Examine as to whether the International Conventions,legislation and regulations of the Republic are duly observed.
-Ensure that all appropriate measures are taken for the prevention of sea pollution from ships under the Cyprus flag.
-Examine whether there is prompt and effective fighting of possible sea pollution within the Cyprus national water and ensure that severe punishment is imposed to those responsible for the pollution.
-Examine whether the relative procedures followed by the Department of Merchant Shipping and the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research are satisfactory as compared with the procedures and practice followed by other countries such as European Union , North America and Japan.
Observation, use of questionnaires, interviews ,site visits and documentary evidence were the main types of audit methodologies used to gather the necessary evidence for carrying out the audit.
Surveys of ships
Surveys of ships constitute an important measure for the prevention of sea pollution.During the survey , the general condition of the ship is examined and is confirmed whether all the appropriate procedures are followed and records are kept in accordance with the International Convention MARPOL 73/78 (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships 1973).
The performance audit revealed that during the last years there has been an increase in the number of surveys carried out by the Department of Merchant Shipping .In cases where omissions or irregularities are observed fines are imposed according to Law.Surveys are also carried out by foreign independent surveyors appointed by the Department of Merchant Shipping for this purpose.There is a continuous improvement regarding retentions of ships at the ports abroad during the last years and there is a prospect for ships under the Cyprus flag to be deleted from the ‘black list ‘.
(Tables with statistical data at the back are relevant)
The Cyprus ports do not have properly organised reception facilities of the kind provided by the International Convention MARPOL 73/78 and Law 57/89 .According to the provisions of above Convention reception facilities provided by the ports should be such that all ships expected to enter the ports should be adequately served and that they should provide all the means to safeguard against pollution to the environment .Also Law 57/89 stipulates that all ships entering the ports or anchorages and other stations in Cyprus have an obligation to hand over oil residues and other waste to designated reception facilities .Cyprus ports provide minor facilities .The residues are collected in licensed trucks and conveyed to a private unit for processing .Collecting of residues from ships is done on their request and no examination is carried out to ensure they are delivered.Also the Department of Merchant Shipping does not carry out any examination for locating and preventing the throwing of such residues in the sea.
c) Locating of sea pollution
The responsibility for locating of cases of sea pollution vests with the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research.The Department carries out its own examinations through laboratory analysis of seawater specimens collected at regular intervals from various coasts and has the responsibility for dealing with small pollution incidents .The audit reveals that during the last years small incidents of pollution were occured within Cyprus seawaters which were successfully dealt with by the Department.In most cases the polluters were identified and fines specified by Law were imposed and the expenses for the fighting of pollution were recovered.Fortunately there have never been any major water pollution incidences around Cyprus waters.Cyprus has entered into a regional agreement with Egypt and Israel for mutual assistance in case of major pollution incidences.
The Department of Merchant Shipping has done a lot of work for the harmonization of Cyprus legislation with the European Union legislation .However the Department will be in a position to fully implement the legislation only when changes are made in the surveys procedures and the measures for the protection of environment the most important of which is the increase in the number of surveys of ships .The ultimate goal should be for all ships to be surveyed annually.
The upgrading of Reception Facilities at the ports is very important .According to European Directive no.2000/59 /EC ,all the ships on their visit to Community ports are required to deliver oil and other residues to Reception Facilities, otherwise to pay fines.Therefore all necessary measures should be taken for the full adoption of this Directive.