The Local Authority Waters Programme 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).
The programme is a shared service working with Local Authorities and state agencies to develop and implement River Basin Management Plans in Ireland, as required under the EU Water Framework Directive. The following diagram illustrates how the programme and all 31 Local Authorities work side by side to achieve common water quality goals.
The core focus of this work is to protect and improve water quality in rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters. Good water quality, and a healthy water environment, is vital for human health and a myriad of wildlife. It is also underpins the economy and supports local jobs in sectors such as tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.
The three strategic aims of the programme are as follows:
- Support and coordinate public bodies and other stakeholders to achieve the objectives of the RBMP.
- Activate local communities to engage with river catchments in line with the integrated catchment management approach
- Build a foundation and momentum for long-term improvements and inform the development and implementation of the 3rd Cycle RBMP.
The programme has two teams; the Communities Team and the Catchments Team, both teams work closely together, operating out of 13 different Local Authority centres across the country. These teams have different yet closely related remits, as follows:
Communities Team: This team consists of three Coordinators and 12 Community Water Officers working from various Local Authority centres. It supports communities and stakeholders in the delivery of local water quality projects and initiatives. The team also works with rivers trusts and catchment partnerships, which are emerging across the country.
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 new Community Water Development Fund, managed by the Programme, also supports community-led projects.
Catchment Assessment Team: This team was established in 2018 and consists of scientists with a wide range of technical expertise. They are implementing measures within the 190 priority Areas For Action aimed at improving water quality. This involves river assessments and stream walks to understand the issues affecting water quality. Working with local communities, landowners, business owners and public bodies, this team develops relevant and workable solutions. The Programme supports the Agricultural Sustainability and Advisory Programme, working with farmers in the Areas For Action.
This is a new way of working to achieve better water quality and it is being supported by community action right across the country. 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 email@example.com or phone 0761 06 6230