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Local Authorities – New Waters and Communities office
In July 2014, The Department of Environment, Community & Local Government issued the European Union (Water Policy) Regulations 2014, which gave effect to a new, three tier governance framework and placed new obligations on local authorities to co-ordinate the catchment management and public participation elements of the Water Framework Directive.
The Regulations also provide for the establishment of a Water Framework Directive Office (WFD Office) to deliver on these obligations as a shared service on behalf of all Local Authorities. Kilkenny County Council and Tipperary County Council have been appointed as the lead Authorities for this project and will take responsibility for the WFD Office.
This shared service arrangement will take account of the need to deliver maximum benefit with limited resource availability. The WFD Office will ensure that the resources are utilised locally within an integrated national WFD implementation plan, based on a single River Basin District.
The strategic role of the Office will be:
- To promote knowledge sharing and coordination in implementing the River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) and the Programme of Measures (PoMs) by local authorities, other public authorities, sectoral interests and community groups.
- To coordinate/undertake statutorily required public consultation in development of the RBMPs and POMs and a public awareness campaign in water resources management.
- To seek consistency of RBMP implementation across agencies.
- To assist the Minister and the EPA and work collaboratively with local authorities in the development of RBMPs and POMs.
- To mobilise and support engagement of voluntary and community groups in protecting our natural waters.
- To foster linkages with industry and agricultural sectors.
- To develop linkages with local sectoral representative organisations such as Chambers of Commerce, county level IFA, angling groups, tidy towns etc.
While the Office will be managed by Kilkenny County Council and Tipperary County Council, the greater portion of the staff will be placed throughout the country to ensure that resources can be harnessed and utilised locally.
The staff complement will be:
- Three Regional Coordinators, who will work with LAs in developing annual implementation plans and coordinating the implementation of those plans. They will also establish linkages with national and regional groupings, develop and manage a public participation programme and work collaboratively with other stakeholders and seek opportunities for joint actions.
- Three Water Framework Directive Support Officers who will provide key services that cannot be provided due to the technical expertise required. Specifically the needs identified are expertise in accessing funding and managing funding requests, data management including spatial analysis of information and the provision of regional and national level input to characterisation and plan development activities and expertise in marketing, communications, education and public relations.
- Twelve Community Water Officers whose primary role will be to engage with communities and individual sectors of society at local level. They will be geographically spread throughout the country and will be based within twelve Local Authority centres. They will engage with the public in water matters, seeking participation, education, local inclusion, two way communications, understanding, trust, and developing local area water management plans in partnership with stakeholders to meet WFD RBMP objectives.