Plan to result in the protection and improvement of water…
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: (www.watersandcommunities.ie) and An Fóram Uisce (www. nationalwaterforum.ie), will help bring citizens to the heart of water policy and water quality protection.
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
More information, including some videos looking at the Plan, are available on the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s website: www.housing.gov.ie/water/water-quality/river-basin-managementplans/river-basin-management-plan-2018-2021