Northern Ireland’s water resources are managed and protected using a catchment based approach which includes rivers, lakes and groundwater as well as coastal and marine water bodies. The Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) requires the production and implementation of a River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) in six yearly cycles. The River Basin Management Plan takes an integrated approach, identifying those water bodies which can be classified as being at ‘good or better’ status, as well as setting the objectives and programme of measures for the next six year cycle to help improve those water bodies which are classified as below ‘good’ status.
The 3rd cycle RBMP period runs from 2021-2027. As part of the development of this next cycle plan the Department must, by 22 December 2019, publish for public consultation a report on ‘Significant Water Management Issues’ (SWMI) in Northern Ireland. This consultation has been produced to share an overview of the significant water management issues identified across Northern Ireland. It will inform measures required to secure the necessary improvements and to share evidence around where action is required.
By being involved you can take an active role to help to protect and deliver further improvements to ensure the sustainability, health and resilience of our water environment.
Through this consultation we are inviting you to give your views on:
- What you think are the significant water management issues in Northern Ireland?
- How you think we can all work together to address these issues for the overarching benefit all of the citizens of Northern Ireland?
- What actions/measures do you think should be progressed and how do you see these measures being delivered?
The consultation will run for six months, the deadline for response is Monday 22 June 2020.
The 2015 classification showed that 37.4 % of all water bodies (rivers, lakes, coastal and marine water bodies, groundwater) were at good or better status. The second cycle River Basin Management Plan objective was to improve the status of water bodies, so that 70 % of all water bodies would be at good status by 2021. The results of the 2018 interim update, where 36.6 % of water bodies were at good or better status, indicate that Northern Ireland is now unlikely to achieve that objective. While the overall figure does include water bodies where status has improved, unfortunately this has been offset by a higher number of water bodies that have deteriorated in status.
A more detailed analysis was carried out for river water bodies to identify the key reasons for the deterioration and failure to improve status in a sufficient number of water bodies. The main pressures on the status of water bodies are agriculture and waste water-related impacts (urban development).