Our rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal and groundwaters are amongst Ireland’s greatest natural assets. These waters provide countless benefits, or ecosystem services, that we very often take for granted. Access to a healthy water environment has been proven to have massive benefits for health and well-being. The wildlife along our waterways and shores provides inspiration for young and old alike, just think of a time you saw a trout rising from a river, a heron still like a statue waiting to strike, or dolphins travelling across a harbour. Communities the length and breadth of the country have a deep rooted connection to the water environment, and local traditions, stories and songs help to preserve this heritage. Each year, people visit destinations right across the country seeking access to a healthy water environment, whether for fishing, boating, swimming or surfing and this in turn benefits local economies and helps to support local jobs.
The Waters and Communities Office was set up in February 2016 to promote better management of our streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater for the benefit of present and future generations. This is not only a legal requirement of the EU Water Framework Directive, it is in all our best interests.
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The Waters and Communities Office operates as a shared service on behalf of all Local Authorities, with two key objectives:
- To coordinate the water quality work of Local Authorities through agreed regional structures, thereby providing a collaborative approach to river catchment management.
- To engage local communities and promote public participation in the management of our water environment.
Our Community Water Officers will work closely with local communities, public bodies, sectoral interests, Public Participation Networks (PPNs), Local Development Companies and other stakeholders to promote collaboration in the management of our natural water environment.
We can provide technical assistance and support for local communities on water based initiatives, such as:
- Invasive species removal and control
- Riverbank improvement works/halting erosion
- In stream works – stream crossings
- Community engagement around water
- Citizen science and monitoring of local rivers – Nature detectives
- Restoration of wildlife habitats
- “Solution to pollution” – advice on problems identified
- Animal access to waters – advice on best practice
- River heritage and walks signage and leaflets
- And more.
The Waters and Communities Office 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0761 06 5262.