Taking Action

Areas for Acton

Areas for Action (AFAs) are areas where work to restore and protect waterbodies is being focused.

Second Cycle Prioritised Areas For Action (PAAs)

A comprehensive selection process in 2017 identified Prioritised Areas for Action (PAAs) for the Second Cycle River Basin Management Plan, which ran from 2018-2021. LAWPRO catchment scientists worked in specific catchment areas called Priority Areas for Action (PAAs).

Third Cycle Areas for Action

For the Third Cycle, which will run until 2027, there are three proposed categories of AFAs. This approach is designed to provide ‘a place in the plan for everyone’.

  • Areas for Restoration
  • Areas for Protection
  • Catchment Projects

Each area for action will have a designated lead such as LAWPRO, a local authority, the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, Inland Fisheries Ireland etc. This approach aims to capture all the water quality improvement work that is happening across the country. This approach will also align actions being carried out for other purposes with the objectives of the RBMP, where possible, so that synergies can be identified, and multiple benefits can be achieved.

All other waterbodies will benefit from the implementation of basic measures as part of each organisation’s annual work programmes. This implementation process will facilitate a collaborative approach across agencies, where activities are being undertaken in line with the integrated catchment management approach and it will present opportunities for agencies to learn from one another. This will allow for the development of an evidence base on approaches and actions that are successful in restoring and protecting water quality.

Proposed categories of Areas for Action for the Third Cycle

Updates on progress in Area for Action

You can find updates on the progress in Areas for Action on catchments.ie and LAWaters.ie

1. How to find your AFA – Name Search

This method is best for those who already know the name of their PAA. Catchments.ie provides a search function to allow you to easily list PAA’s of interest. From this screen you will be able to:

  1. See the current Progress status
  2. A description of the Progress
  3. Download a plain Desk Study Summary report
  4. View the location on a Map

To access this list please click https://www.catchments.ie/data/#/areaforaction

The Areas for Action page on catchments.ie

2. How to find your AFA – Water Map Search

If you wish to search for progress based on location follow these instructions:

  1. Click on the link below
  2. Select “Taking Action” from the top menu
  3. Turn on the “WFD Areas For Action” layer
  4. Click on the layer for the location you are interested in
  5. The left hand side of the map will expand with information for the location you selected. (You may need to press the two down arrows to make the information visible)

You can access the Water Map here: https://gis.epa.ie/EPAMaps/Water

Areas for Action on the EPA Water Map

Selection Process for the 2nd Cycle 2018 – 2021

The process to select the Priority Areas for Action used several principles. The most important one was that water bodies should be At Risk of not achieving good or high water quality. It means that we are working in areas where water quality improvements need to be made. It also gave priority to following type of waterbodies: 

  • High status objective waterbodies, more commonly referred to as Blue Dot waters 
  • Waterbodies in Protected Areas, that is waters that are used for drinking water supply, bathing, shellfish growing or waters that feed into habitats in Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) 
  • Waterbodies where the water quality has got worse or might worsen if we do not find the source of pollution 

The number of water bodies needed to be reduced, so the following additional principles were used :

  • Examine the water bodies where the river rises (headwaters) first
  • The PAA should include water bodies at a sub-catchment scale, where practical
  • Tackle multiple pollution sources together
  • Link the catchment areas to existing programmes and community group initiatives, where possible
  • PAAs should build on improvements or measures already planned
  • The PAAs should ensure an even distribution of actions to address different pollution sources and catchment types across the regions

Regional Management Committees agreed the list of proposed Priority Areas for Action. A short public consultation process followed it.

The reasons these AFAs were selected is here: Areas for Action – reasons for selection

Local Catchment Assessment is the term used to describe the work LAWPRO do in each of the Priority Areas for Action. To find out more, click here.

3rd Cycle Proposed Areas for Action for the Draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022 – 2027

These areas are proposed for focused action and collaboration by local authorities, public bodies, and stakeholders as part of implementation of the 3rd Cycle for implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in Ireland.

The Areas for Action were selected and approved by each of the five Regional Operational Committees (ROCs) and the five Regional Water and Environment Management Committees (RMCs) which operate at Tier 3 of the Water Framework Directive Governance Structure.

The process for the selection of Areas for Action for the 3rd Cycle was an evolution of the methodology used for the 2nd Cycle River Basin Management Plan. A new framework was developed for the latest selection process to capture the broad range of catchment management activities being undertaken using the current resources available. The EPA, together with LAWPRO and each of the five ROCs agreed a shortlist of Areas for Action, which was approved by the RMCs. This shortlist was submitted to the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage in May 2021 by LAWPRO on behalf of the Regional Committees.

The report on the methodology for selection of the Proposed Areas for Action can be viewed here

The list of Proposed Areas for Action can be viewed here

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.