Water Framework Directive: New announcement on its implementation

ECOS Environmental Consultants - Limerick city at night showing King John's Castle, Limerick City Council offices and St Marys CathedralTwo key steps in Ireland’s on-going implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) have been announced.

  • A consultation document on the Timetable and Work Programme for the development of the 2nd cycle of River Basin Management Plans.
  • New Regulations have also been introduced which re-assign functional responsibility for WFD implementation to local authorities, to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The Water Framework Directive was adopted in 2000 and requires member states to manage their water resources on an integrated basis in order to achieve at least ‘good’ ecological status.

  • The consultation document seeks the input of interested parties on the approach proposed for the second cycle of plans which will be adopted in 2017 and will run until 2021.
  • New governance and administration arrangements have been put in place. There will now be a single national approach for the development of river basin management plans within the State.
  • The technical analysis and planning tasks will be advanced on the basis of appropriate water or catchment management units to be decided by EPA.
  • Specific administrative arrangements will be put in place to coordinate requirements with Northern Ireland in relation to cross-border waters, encompassing water management units in the Neagh-Bann, the North Western and the Shannon River Basin Districts which flow into or out of Northern Ireland.

A new three-tier governance structure has been established.

  • Tier 1, led by the government will deal with policy and resource matters.
  • The EPA will lead on the underpinning science at Tier 2.
  • Local authorities at Tier 3 will lead on implementation, enforcement and public engagement at local river level.

European Union (Water Policy) Regulations 2014, has been signed into law in Ireland and gives effect to these new structures and provide specifically for a Water Policy Advisory Committee to advise the Minister at Tier 1. 

The Consultation Document is available for download and the consultation period is open until 31 January 2015.