The River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018 – 2021 sets out measures and priorities aimed at ensuring its implementation over the next four years will achieve objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive.
To support these objectives the catchment characterisation work undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has informed criteria for prioritisation for this cycle of river basin management planning, these are:
- Ensure full compliance with relevant existing EU legislation.
- Prevent deterioration of ecological status.
- Meet the specific water-related objectives required for our protected areas.
- Specifically protect and restore our high-status objective water bodies.
- Prioritise catchment areas for action that facilitates (i) the targeting of water bodies where evidence suggests they could achieve status improvements during this cycle and (ii) the progression of pilots in sub-catchments with more complex issues that require multi-disciplinary and cross-agency approaches
- Work to improve our knowledge and understanding of hydromorphology and barriers as pressures impacting on water quality, including the identification of the scale of these issues; build the expertise necessary to address these issues.
Water bodies identified as being At Risk of not achieving their environmental objectives need to have targeted measures implemented to achieve objectives under this Plan. The manner and the timeframe in which these targeted measures are implemented need to be prioritised to take account of the finite resources available and of the time and resources needed to develop appropriate measures.
During the development of this Plan, a prioritisation exercise was undertaken by the local authorities, the EPA and other stakeholders to identify those water bodies that require immediate action within this plan cycle to 2021. During the catchment characterisation, the EPA identified those water bodies either At Risk of not achieving their objectives or Under Review.
Led jointly by the EPA and the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office, a collaborative workshop process involving senior local authority personnel and all relevant stakeholders was set up to identify, at a regional level, those waterbodies that should be prioritised for action during this planning cycle. This process was based on the prioritisation criteria outlined above, on the evidence from the characterisation process and on the data and knowledge of public authority personnel. The outcome of this prioritisation process was the selection of 190 Areas for Action across the 5 local authority regions. Within these 190 areas, a total of 726 water bodies were selected for initial actions during this RBMP cycle.
There are 832 water bodies identified as being At Risk of not achieving their environmental objectives under this Plan that have not been included in the Areas for Action. For most of these water bodies, targeted actions will be undertaken in the third cycle RBMP from 2021-2027.