The Water Forum Chair, Dr Matt Crowe; SEO Donal Purcell and Research Lead Dr Triona McGrath attended the Joint Oireachtas Committee for a discussion on the 3rd River Basin Management Plan.
The Committee facilitated a wide-ranging exploration of the issues with expert contributions from the Water Forum, Teagasc, An Taisce and the Sustainable Water Network, SWAN. The WFD requires that ‘good ecological status’ is achieved in all waterbodies by 2027. Currently, approximately 50% of Irelands lakes, rivers and estuaries are at good status.
Of Ireland’s 4842 waterbodies, 1603 need improvement measures; 1983 are at good status and need protection measures so they do not deteriorate and 1256 are in review meaning they need further assessments to determine the measures that are required to protect or improve them.
Agriculture is the most significant pressure as it is the most significant impact on 1000 waterbodies, reflecting an increasing trend since the last cycle. Waterbody modifications (drainage, channel modification, habitat change) are the second most significant pressure affecting 442 waterbodies, forestry impacts 233 waterbodies and urban wastewater is the most significant pressure in 208 waterbodies.
The Water Forum believe that the new RBMP must include details of the measures that will be put in place to restore all waterbodies to good status and to protect good status where it exists, that is, a new outcomes-based approach needs to be implemented. Timelines to achieve the improvements should be included so that an easy and transparent assessments of progress can be made. It also believes that climate and biodiversity objectives should also be considered along with water so that trade offs and co-benefits can be achieved. Public participation is key to engaging at local level to find solutions that work for all.
Dr Matt Crowe’s presentation is available here: