Have your say on how to improve water quality

Date published: 20 December 2019

A new Report published today by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) highlights our water environment remains under pressure from human activity, with the main pressures coming from agriculture and waste water related impacts.

DARD report

The report on Significant Water Management Issues shows that 37% of our 450 water bodies (rivers, lakes, marine and groundwater) are at ‘good’ status or better. DAERA’s Water Framework Directive target, reflected in the Department’s key objectives, is to have 70% of water bodies at ‘good’ status by 2021.

Seeking the views of the public as part of the first step in a process to develop the next cycle of River Basin Management Plans to tackle the issues raised in the Report, Tim Irwin, Head of NIEA Water Management Unit said: “Everyone within Northern Ireland has a role to play in reducing pollution and supporting efforts to improve water quality.

“Water is a vital commodity for each and every one of us. Our bodies use water in all the cells, organs, and tissues, to help regulate body temperature and maintain other bodily functions. 

“Water is precious because it is the lifeblood of our economy. We rely on it for our agriculture, for food and drink, for manufacturing, for tourism and much, much more.

“We need water to protect and improve our biodiversity and ecosystems. Like human life, biodiversity and ecosystems need water in order to survive and in the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments water quality is key to determining what flourishes.

“We would urge members of the public to respond to this consultation, what they believe are the significant issues which need to be addressed and to give their view on the sorts of measures which they think can best tackle them.”

Download the Significant Water Management Issues report.

The Consultation closes on 22 June 2020


Notes to editors: 

  1. The current (2nd cycle) River Basin Management Plans run from 2015-2021 and set out a programme of measures to be implemented during that period and designed to deliver improved water quality.
  2. In preparation for the draft 3rd cycle River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) in 2020 and final RBMP (2021-2027) in 2021, Northern Ireland Environment Agency is publishing a consultation on the Significant Water Management Issues.
  3. The publication of this consultation is a statutory requirement under the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and is open for 6 months. The consultation ends on 22 June 2020.
  4. The draft 3rd Cycle River Basin Management Plans will be published for further public consultation in December 2020 with the final Plans to be published by December 2021.
  5. It is recognised that Northern Ireland will have to deal with the significant pressures on the water environment in the third-cycle river basin management plan running from 2022 to 2027 and that the main pressures are due to agriculture and waste water related impacts.
  6. Improving water quality is a cross-cutting issue and the two main government departments for implementing measures to improve water body status are the Department for Infrastructure and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. However, this is a wider issue and everyone within Northern Ireland has a role to play in reducing pollution and supporting efforts to improve water quality.
  7. While the lack of improvement in water body status between 2015 and 2018 is disappointing DAERA/ Northern Ireland Environment Agency is continuing to work with a wide range of stakeholders to implement measure to help improve water quality. The SWMI Report sets out examples of the sort of work we have been doing.
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  9. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.


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