Draft River Basin Management Plan For Ireland Published
Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, has published the draft River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for Ireland 2018-2021, which is subject to public consultation for six months.
The draft plan outlines measures aimed at protecting and improving the water environment, working towards achieving the Water Framework Directive’s (WFD) objectives. The Directive’s overarching objective is to achieve good water quality in our rivers, lakes, estuaries and other coastal waters. This is to be achieved through catchment-based river basin management planning.
Among the draft plan’s main measures are:
- planned investment by Irish Water of approximately €1.7 billion in wastewater projects, programmes and improved asset management over the period to 2021 – delivering new or upgraded wastewater treatment plants in 105 agglomerations or urban areasand bringing Ireland into compliance with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive;
- 353 risk assessments of drinking water sources by Irish Water by 2021;
- 50,000 farmers participating and implementing actions to improve the rural environment, including actions to improve water quality under the Rural Development Programme’s(RDP) €1.4 billion GLAS Scheme (2014-2020). To support these actions, the National Dairy Sustainability Forum will establish a dairy co-op-led pilot knowledge transfer programme on better nutrient management and farm point source pollution management. This will be implemented for dairy farmers supplying cooperatives;
- a ‘Blue Dot Catchments Programme’, a programme to create awareness and promote best practice to protect our highest quality waters;
- improved RBMP governance and delivery structures and development of a strengthened evidence base upon which to make decisions;
- establishment of a national water forum to increase stakeholder and public engagement on all water issues, including WFD implementation – this will involve expanding the remit of the existing Public Water Forum, a consumer forum for Irish Water customers; and
- establishment of a comprehensive database for water abstractions greater than 25 cubic meters per day.
Minister Coveney comments: “Water is critical to the wellbeing of our society and economy. It is essential that it is protected, managed and used sustainably. Good water quality is vital for protecting the environment, public health and our economy, which sustains over 200,000 water-intensive jobs. The plan aims to protect our water environment and promote the sustainable use of water so that we and future generations will continue to enjoy access to one of our greatest natural resources.
“This plan contains important measures to improve water quality, protect drinking water sources and see a significant increase in wastewater treatment capacity. If we implement these measures with focus and coordination we will see progressive improvement in water quality over time, greater protection of public health and biodiversity and greater economic opportunity.”
Among the main measures in the draft plan is the establishment of a public water forum. Minister Coveney says: “In recent years we have all become more aware of the value of water and the challenges and costs associated with the provision of water services. Ongoing dialogue and debate is needed about water as a resource, water quality as an environmental, social and economic imperative and other aquatic issues. That is why I am establishing a national water forum, to facilitate greater debate and to encourage the public and stakeholders to engage on issues such as this draft plan. I also intend writing to the Public Water Forum very shortly to ask for its views on the draft River Basin Management Plan so that its voice can help shape the final plan.”
“Separate to the proposed national forum, I would encourage all to read and reflect on this plan and to submit their views to my department. We are seeking everyone’s views to help produce the best possible plan.”
Public consultation will run until 31 August 2017. The RBMP will be finalised by the end of 2017 and then submitted to the European Commission.
The draft RBMP (2018-2021) can be downloaded from our public consultation page on housing.gov.ie.