The Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) was previously called the Local Authority Waters & Communities Office. This name change was necessary to represent the expansion of the programme in 2018 under the current River Basin Management Plan (RBMP).

LAWPRO is a local authority shared service working with the 31 local authorities, relevant State agencies, stakeholders and communities. The goal is to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive to have all natural waters at a good standard by 2027.  The following diagram illustrates how the programme and all 31 Local Authorities work side by side in pursuit of that goal:

The core objective of the national River Basin Management Plan is to protect and restore water quality to ‘good ecological status’ in our rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters. Good water quality and healthy catchments are vital for human health and well-being, and critical for biodiversity and wildlife. Good water quality also underpins a strong economy and is essential to sectors such as tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing and the jobs those sectors support. 

LAWPRO has three core aims:

  • Coordinate efforts by Local Authorities, public bodies and other stakeholders to achieve the water quality objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive.
  • Support local communities to get involved in caring for their local waters and participate in decision making and river basin management plans 
  • By applying catchment science, identify the issues impacting on water quality in the PAAs and refer them for action. 

The programme has two teams; the Communities Team and the Catchments Team, both teams work closely together and operate out of 13 different local authority centres nationwide.  These two teams have different yet closely related remits, as follows:

Communities Team: This team consists of three Coordinators and 13 Community Water Officers. The main focus is community engagement, to support the delivery of local community-led water quality projects and initiatives. The team also works with Rivers Trusts and catchment associations as umbrella groups for community action for better water quality and local environment. 

During 2017, the team delivered public consultation on the Draft RBMP at a local level. The process involved gathering views and comments on water issues and concerns across the country. This led to a national conversation on the value of clean water. The team also provides a necessary link between active communities and various funding streams such as LEADER and Local Agenda 21. The Community Water Development Fund allows LAWPRO fund and support local communities and community-led projects.

Catchments Team: This team was established in 2018 and consists of scientists with a wide range of technical expertise. They are working in the 190 priority Areas For Action (PAA) with a targeted approach for improving water quality. This involves initial desk studies, meetings with the local community, and river assessments to better understand the issues affecting water quality in a waterbody and catchment. Working with local communities, landowners, business owners and public bodies, this team develops relevant and workable solutions. The Catchments Team also supports the Agricultural Sustainability and Advisory Programme that is working directly with farmers to implement farm measures in the PAAs.

This is a new way of working to achieve better water quality and it is being supported by community action right across the country. Each and every one of us can play our part, and even the smallest change can produce a bigger effect.

The Local Authority Waters Programme is funded by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and is managed jointly by Kilkenny and Tipperary County Councils.  The office can be contacted by Email info@lawaters.ie or phone 0761 06 6230