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 31 Local Authorities and the Local Authority Waters Programme work side by side.
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; Communities Team and Catchment Assessment Team, both of which operate from 13 different Local Authority centres across the country. These teams have different yet closely related remits, as follows:
Communities Team: This team works with communities and stakeholders across the country to encourage and support actions and initiatives to protect and improve water quality locally. In 2017, it conducted local public consultations on the draft RBMP, gathering public views on water issues from all parts of the country. This process influenced the final Plan. It also broadened the national conversation on water quality and how communities interact with and value water.
Catchment Assessment Team: This team will carry out catchment assessments to get a more detailed understanding of the issues impacting on water quality in the 190 priority Areas for Action. It will set out and give a timetable for the measures to be used to address issues identified. The team’s work also involves engaging with local stakeholders to tell them of work plans for their area.
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 changes can produce a bigger effect.
The Local Authority Water 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