Catchment News

River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021

On 17 April 2018, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, T.D., launched the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for Ireland 2018-2021. The Plan sets out a national approach to protecting Ireland’s water bodies over the next four years, outlining key actions in areas such as agriculture, wastewater treatment, source protection and resource management. The Plan aims to achieve water quality improvements in 726 water bodies, with improvements in Water Framework Directive water quality status in 152 water bodies. It is the culmination of three years’ consultation, collaboration and innovation.

Water quality has stood still over the past decade. Planned improvements to the status of 13% of our waters were not achieved during the first river basin management planning cycle. Our growing population and economy are placing increasing pressures on our water resources. Meanwhile, the challenges in protecting water quality are increasingly complex in countries like ours with developed economies.

It is essential, therefore, that we take strong steps. This second cycle Plan takes an innovative, new approach to protecting, improving and sustainably managing our aquatic environment. It’s highly reliant on cross-sectoral collaboration and marks a fundamental change in how the State engages with people, communities and organisations in addressing these challenges.

One of the most positive aspects of the Plan’s development was the strong public and civic participation during the consultation process. The Minister and his Department greatly appreciate the efforts of all those who contributed to the over 2,000 submissions made or who attended the 122 public meetings. Their views had a significant influence on the Plan.

A clear message from the consultation process was the need to improve communication and stakeholder engagement throughout implementation. New working arrangements and measures, including governance and implementation structures, the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office: ( and An Fóram Uisce (www., will help bring citizens to the heart of water policy and water quality protection.

Minister Murphy and An Fóram Uisce

Through partnership with local authorities and the EPA, the second-cycle Plan has a much improved evidence base on the state of our aquatic environment. This has helped shape new national policies and initiatives, and to target measures at local level to maximise their effectiveness.

The new governance structures will also facilitate a more coherent “whole of Government” approach to addressing complex, cross-cutting challenges and developing solutions. Collaborative measures have been developed in areas such as agriculture; public and private water services (water supply and waste water treatment); forestry; peat extraction; flood protection; and the interface between planning and water quality protection.

While the Plan is a strong foundation for long-term improvements, full and effective implementation is critical. This is especially the case given the scale of the challenge and the short timeframe for achieving the Plan’s expected outcomes. Actions at catchment level, by interested people, communities and organisations, are central. The Minister and his Department are committed to seeing this work supported and recognised.

The new Plan is a fresh opportunity for people to work more closely and effectively than ever before in the area of water quality. It is only by working together and discovering how we can all play our part that we can safeguard this most vital resource.

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

Learn More:

More information, including some videos looking at the Plan, are available on the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s website:

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.