1. Introduction

Open19 Jun, 2023, 9:00am - 31 Dec, 2023, 5:00pm


Ireland’s draft River Basin Management Plan 2022-2027 (dRBMP) sets out the need for “a sincere collective effort as well as the time and space given over to collaborative activities”1 to meet the challenge of protecting and restoring Ireland’s water quality and to maximise co-benefits for addressing climate change and biodiversity loss. The dRBMP sets out the environmental objectives and the measures needed to achieve these objectives.

The EPA has reported that slightly more than half (54%) of Ireland’s waterbodies are ‘At Risk’ of not meeting the mandatory environmental objectives of the Water Framework Directive by 2027. In the latest Water Quality in Ireland Report 2016 – 2021, the EPA states that the evidence presented in the report clearly shows that the goal of restoring all waters to good status by 2027 will not be achieved. While improvements in water quality have been recorded, these are being cancelled out by declines occurring elsewhere. A number of actions are now required in order to make better progress, and these include a firm commitment to address the main pressures on water quality – agriculture, hydromorphology, forestry and waste water, and greater coherence and integration across national programmes and policies by Government departments and relevant state bodies2.

The dRBMP proposes that, “Integrated Catchment Planning: local catchment management plans, which will be sub-plans to the national Plan, will be put in place in the next cycle for each of the 46 catchments. Building over time into fully integrated catchment management plans, these will eventually provide a continuing opportunity for greater public participation and engagement of key stakeholders and sectors at a local and regional level in the ongoing management of catchments and water bodies.3

This Discussion Document is intended to form the basis for consultation with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), RBMP implementing bodies, An Fóram Uisce, Catchment Associations, River Trusts, and other community groups and stakeholders on the proposed approach, which will examine the steps required for the establishment of Catchment Community Fora and the development of a template for the Catchment Management Plans in five Pilot catchments.