Catchment News

Public Consultation on the draft River Basin Management Plans for Ireland 2018-2021

The overarching aim of the Water Framework Directive is to achieve at least good status for all water bodies. It aims to do so by ensuring effective water management based on river basins and catchments.

Whilst this requires Government to devise and implement plans and programmes, it also requires all agencies and actors to work together, and the further development of a wider public engagement in water policy and water management.

A central element of the Directive is the requirement for member states to produce River Basin Management Plans. These plans must, amongst other things, assess the environmental pressures causing water bodies to be at risk of not meeting the objectives of the Directive, for example, pressures causing water bodies to be at less than good status. Based on this assessment a programme of measure must be developed to address the significant pressures on such water bodies.

Draft River Basin Management Plan – Public Consultation

The Directive sets out 6 yearly planning cycles. Ireland’s first cycle plan covered the period 2009-2015, and a draft second cycle River Basin Management Plan has recently been published for public consultation. As required, this draft plan provides an assessment of the pressures on the water environment in Ireland, and the proposed programme of measures to be implemented in the period to 2021.


The plan identifies prioritised objectives, including meeting our EU obligations, preventing deterioration of water bodies, and achieving protected area and high status water body objectives. Based on these significant pressures and the prioritised objectives, proposed measures are set out for each of the identified significant pressures including agriculture, waste water, hydromorphology, forestry and peat extraction. Proposed implementation structures, and planned actions for communication and public engagement are also set out.


The types of measures outlined in the draft plan fall into two broad categories.

Firstly, those high level measures to be implemented by national authorities, for example, ensuring effective waste water treatment is in place and ensuring appropriate application of EUregulations in sectors such as agriculture and forestry. It is envisaged such plans and programmes will result in significant progress during the second cycle in terms of managing pressures on the water environment.
Secondly, there are supporting measures, which are required where these high level measures have been implemented, but are not sufficient to ensure good water quality in specific areas. The draft plan envisages that local authorities will lead in terms of decision making and managing implementation of these supporting measures, supported by the expertise and evidence base of the EPA.

Working Together

However, the plan also recognises the need for stakeholders including local authorities, public authorities, non-governmental organisations and communities to cooperate and work together to achieve common goals. The Local Authority Waters and Communities Office will have a vital role in making such co-operation a reality on the ground – as will the continued work of the EPA in developing networks and engagement on water quality issues.
There has already been significant consultation with stakeholders including environmental organisations in terms of developing this draft plan and the proposed programme of measures. Further engagement with stakeholders will be central to developing the final plan. We hope that the consultation process will also provide an opportunity for wider engagement with water management issues, and that individuals, community groups and schools can engage with the plan and inform us as to how the plan can be improved, and how we can better facilitate their engagement in the implementation of this plan and the objective of improving the water environment.


Where to read the draft River Basin Management Plan and make a submission

The full draft plan and details on how to engage in the consultation process are available on the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government’s website.

Whilst the consultation is open for 6 months, until the end of August 2017, we would encourage early submissions to allow us to consider how the final plan can best reflect the input of interested parties.

Article by Ken Jordan, Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,842 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures to protect and restore our waters.