4. Draft Catchment Management Plan outline

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

It is proposed that the outline of the draft Catchment Management Plans for the pilot catchments will include the following elements.  As the draft CMPs are developed for the pilot catchments, changes and recommendations will be collated and discussed through the review structures.  This will then evolve the development of the CMP template for future rollout in other catchments.

4.1 River Basin Management Plan Objectives

The RBMP will clearly set out the WFD objective for each water body, this will be included in each draft CMP for the pilot catchments. The RBMP will also identify the programme of measure that Ireland has committed to implement the WFD.   These both will inform the ‘mandatory’ setting for each CMP. Certain POMs apply depending on the water body characterisation.

4.2 Characterisation

The EPA has carried out initial characterisation for all water bodies in the country, this means that they have used available data on water quality and the pressures to determine whether a water body is ‘at risk’ of failing to meet its environmental objectives. The EPA have also prepared catchment assessments reports, which includes.

  • Status and Risk categories of all waterbodies
  • Details on protected areas
  • Significant Issues and Significant Pressures
  • Source load apportionment modelling for each catchment and load reduction assessments for nutrients where applicable
  • An overview of the 2nd Cycle Areas for Action and a list of proposed 3rd Cycle Areas for Action

This information along with more detailed information produced by LAWPRO in their desk studies for priority areas for action (PAA) and any other relevant information provided by stakeholders, including communities, will be captured in the CMP.  This characterisation information will inform the relevant actions to be taken in the catchment area and the technical constraints that may exist. Protected areas (e.g., bathing waters, drinking water source protection areas, water dependent ecosystems) objectives will be considered in the identification of appropriate measures. An understanding of the impact that climate change will have on the water environment will be important in the selection of proposed measures.

Over time other catchment elements arising out of the Catchment Community Fora such as heritage, socio-economic, tourism, etc may be necessary to include.

4.3 Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders involved in the CMP process will be defined.  The constraints placed on implementing bodies in terms of the mandatory measures will be explained. Clarification is required in some areas especially in terms of the CCF.  A greater understanding of the role of CCF is expected through consultation on this discussion document and through the development of terms of reference in Phase 1.

4.4 Engagement with Catchment Community Fora

The establishment of the CCF and their associated terms of reference will inform how these fora will interact with the CMP.  This is an area of innovation and will require a lot of discussion and will form a significant part of the piloting process. 

This discussion document proposes some objectives for the CCF in Section 2, however, these will be subject to further development. 

The CCF may be involved in developing a shared vision and outcomes for the catchment. It is hoped that new and innovative approaches such as the use of public participatory GIS could be trialled, and the information used to inform the CMP.

4.5 Sectoral Action Plans

The sectoral action plans will be the core of the CMP.  This is where all the actions will be tracked both in terms of activity and on the ground implementation of measures.  It is critical that the activities and measures be assessed to determine if they translate to water quality improvements.  We know from the characterisation, what and where the issues are, and this information should be used to develop the Plans.

There is a need to consider the possible effects of climate change when selecting and implementing measures. The measures will need to be resilient to climate change impacts.  The co-benefits of water-focused measures on climate and biodiversity will be important to document and communicate.

The different sectors (Table 1) are outlined in the dRBMP as:

Agriculture  - DAFM, LA, ASSAP, ACRES CP, EIPs

Natural rivers and lakes and River Restoration – Hydromorphology  IFI, EPA, OPW, LAWPRO

Forestry – Forest Service, Coillte

Urban Waste Water – Irish Water

Urban Runoff Pressures – Irish Water, LAs

Domestic Waste Water Discharges - LAs

Unknown pressures

Peat - BnM

Industry, Mines and Quarries – EPA, LAs

Drinking Water Source Protection – NFWGS, IW

Invasive Alien species – NPWS, LAs

Hazardous Chemical in the Aquatic environment – EPA, DAFM

Aquaculture – SFPA, BIM

Land Use Planning  - DHLGH, LA

Table 1 Sectoral Groups

Key Performance Indicators

These will be a small set of indicators that reflect key elements of the catchment condition, collected on a waterbody-by-waterbody basis. Indicators should include a mix of activity metrics and outcome metrics. They may also include metrics than can be reported on a yearly basis, those that might be reported on a 3-yearly basis such as water quality, and those that are reported on a WFD planning period basis, i.e., every 6 years. Examples may include:

  • Yearly progress on tonnes N reduction in the estuary.
  • Number of High-Status WBs.
  • Number in-stream barriers removed.
  • Number of WBs achieving their WFD objectives.
  • Number of improvements and declines in status.
  • Number of wastewater treatment plants as significant pressures.
  • Conservation status of water dependent qualifying interests in SACs?
  • Proportion of Protected areas with their objectives met.
  • Irish Water capital investment programme schemes started.
  • Irish Water capital investment programme schemes completed.
  • Public Participation Metrics (examples might include meetings, number of events, number of workshops, etc and the results or outcomes from same - number of groups represented, attendees, submissions, comments, etc)
  • Communications and media metrics, e.g., numbers of press releases, newsletters, emails sent, social media activity.
  • Community projects completed.

These KPI’s will be set in consultation with each implementing body having regard to the level of ambition required to meet the targets set for the catchment. The CMP process in the pilot catchments will be used to examine such KPIs.

The following headings (Table 2) are being discussed with each of the implementing bodies to standardise the action plan reporting process. The EPA will provide datasets to all sectors to allow for targeted actions to specific water bodies, where there is a likelihood for positive water quality outcomes because of those actions. Appendix A has a sample table completed for forestry pressures.

1. Target

Identify Issues: Characterise Catchments to Identify the Problems

2. Plan

Planning Activities

KPI: Policy and programmes in place

3. Act

Implementing Body Activities

KPI: Delivery mechanism for measures

4. Do

Take Action at site level

KPI: Spatial Data for what happened

5. Report

Monitor progress and water quality outcomes achieved

KPI: Environmental Outcomes

Table 2 Proposed headings for Sectoral Action Plans

Implementing bodies

Currently, all the implementing bodies prepare their own work programmes and set their KPI’s, which are informed by the legislative requirements and then national/organisational priorities.  In the proposed sectoral action plans, each organisation is asked to review their work programmes and specifically identify the actions set out in the RBMP. The EPA as part of their characterisation process has identified the location of specific actions required for each water body, e.g., interception measures.  Each implementing body should consider the characterisation results to inform their individual action plans.

Local Authorities

It is proposed that the Recommended Minimum Criteria for Environmental Inspection (RMCEI) Plans for Water that are currently prepared by local authorities will feed into the Catchment Management Plans.  Local authorities have regulatory responsibilities across several different areas, inclusive of agriculture, domestic wastewater treatment, industrial discharges, as well as other responsibilities such as monitoring programmes etc. LAWPRO will engage with the EPA and local authorities to determine how best the existing RMCEI plans will be developed and reported upon to ensure that they meet the requirements of the RBMP without duplication of effort. These plans will then be incorporated into the pilot CMPs.

National Plans such as the Domestic Wastewater Action Plan and the proposed National Agricultural Inspection Plan will be used to inform the catchment scale plan.

It is critical that local authority actions and relevant measures taken by industry, farmers, householders etc are recorded at site scale. Local authorities should then share that data with the EPA to determine the effectiveness of measures implemented and compliance with relevant legislation.

It is envisaged that the Catchment Management Plans will provide for the viewing of County Level Implementation over time through a web-based platform such as catchments.ie. Local authorities will have a key role in ensuring relevant data is up to date.

Local Authority Waters Programme

While LAWPRO is not an implementing body it will prepare a work schedule for Priority Areas for Action. It is intended to prepare a multi-annual plan, which will integrate with the work of the implementing bodies and ASSAP in terms of implementation of measures. 

The CWOs will prepare a plan of activities for the pilot catchments, these may include stakeholder mapping.  This work plan will evolve over time depending on the success of the CCF.


In feedback received during LAWPRO’s dRBMP public consultations, communities and individuals were interested in understanding the local water quality issues and what was being done about them by implementing bodies. Interest was also expressed in finding out what individuals and communities can do to help bring about water quality improvements.  Communities across the country have been playing their part and just over €500,000 was awarded to 82 projects in 2022 under the Community Water Development Fund (CWDF), with several others leveraging other funding sources.

LAWPRO would like to see community actions being mapped and tracked within the CMPs. It proposes that the CCF would be asked to develop a template for the Community Action plan as part of the pilot process.

Figure 5 Mapping of the local of CWDF projects/awards to date.


In the interim, LAWPRO can provide information on previous CWDF funded projects, and the spatial distribution of the community groups that LAWPRO interacts with to inform the pilot catchment management plans (Figure 4).

Catchment Projects

This section of the CMP will allow for the work plans and implementation actions of the projects to be reported upon by each of the Catchment Projects. It is expected that the number of projects included will increase over time and when projects are completed, they will prepare an end of project report, which will be shared on the CMP platform.

4.6 Monitoring and Evaluation

The EPA is the Agency with responsibility for evaluating the effectiveness of measures in terms of water quality improvements. It is imperative therefore that they receive the on the ground measures information at site scale.  This will allow a comparison with water quality trend information.  The absence of such information has led to additional measures being put in place, especially in the agricultural sector. 

The EPA can then amalgamate the reporting of the site scale measures to water body and then catchment or regional scale whatever is required scale to comply with data protection requirements.

It is anticipated that the CMP will be a live document and therefore an online platform is proposed to be developed to display data with live links to implementation progress.