The Water Forum is committed to facilitating stakeholder engagement on all water issues at a national, strategic policy level with the common goal of improving water quality.

An Fóram Uisce was established as a statutory body in June 2018 having been provided for in the Water Services Act 2017. The purpose of An Fóram is to provide a vehicle for strengthening democratic input into our decision making regarding water as a fundamental national asset. Such decisions are pivotal not only to society today but to the wider ecosystem and to posterity.

Prof. Tom Collins, Chairperson

An Fóram Uisce was established as a statutory body in June 2018 having been provided for in the Water Services Act 2017. The purpose of An Fóram is to provide a vehicle for strengthening democratic input into our decision making regarding water as a fundamental national asset. Such decisions are pivotal not only to society today but to the wider ecosystem and to posterity.

The global and national environmental challenge is multi dimensional. It includes global warming and climate change; the loss of biodiversity; the acidification of the oceans and the persistent decline in the quality of ground water and surface water bodies. These challenges become manifest in critical weather events, in geo-political conflict, in food security, in urban planning and in the broad thrust of economic opportunity and direction.

These challenges mean that the environmental question becomes central in all elements of global decision making and national policy.

Against this backdrop, An Fóram provides a mechanism for feeding into the debate amongst stakeholders at national level. It does this by facilitating the sharing of information and perspectives; enhancing understanding and enriching policy formation.

There is also a need for greater public awareness on the centrality of high quality water, both as an end in itself but also as a barometer of the wider environmental and ecosystem health. An Fóram aims to increase the consciousness of the public of the vulnerability of our water resource and on the interplay between individual behaviour, community, sectoral and societal norms and national policies.
In advising the Minister on objectives, approaches and initiatives relevant to the attainment of good status in our water bodies, An Fóram is charged with taking on board the sometimes different or competing interests of its stakeholders while never departing from the core objective of water quality enhancement.

An Fóram must constantly challenge itself to bring added value to this national project,complementing and critiquing the work of the many statutory bodies with a role in this field. Its diverse, interdisciplinary composition lends it a particular strength in this regard. Thus, it can contribute to the debate and the decision making on priorities; heighten public awareness of the water quality challenge through the many organisations represented on it ; secure organisational buy-in or stakeholder consensus on conservation initiatives which might otherwise encounter public resistance and point to policy options which might not otherwise arise.

If An Fóram, however, is to transcend the role of a brokerage function between competing interests, it must be motivated by an ethos of commitment to public service in its broadest sense and by the realisation of the holistic nature of the eco system which means that all individual acts either detract from or enhance the health of the totality.

Ireland has an extensive and impressive array of scientific/research and regulatory bodies and capability in the environmental domain. As the inter relationships between the different elements of environmental degradation become manifest, the need for integration and cohesion between these bodies, policy makers and the public becomes all the more pressing. This integration begins with a conversation and cannot happen without such a conversation. An Fóram considers that a key part of its job is to ensure that this conversation happens.

An Fóram is the only statutory body representative of all stakeholders with an interest in the quality of Ireland’s water bodies. It consists of 28 members representing a wide range of organisations with direct connections to issues relating to water quality and also public water consumers. Approximately 50 different organisations were involved in the nomination of the members.

Stakeholders Members
Angling Martin McEnroe - Anglers
Agriculture Dominic Cronin - Irish Co-operative Society (ICOS); Denis Drennan - Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA); Derry Dillon - MACRA; Paul O'Brien - Irish Farmers Association (IFA)
Business Neil Walker - Irish Business & Employers Confederation (IBEC)
Community and Voluntary David Wright; Gerald Quain - Irish Rural Link
Education Suzanne Linnane - Dundalk Institute of Technology
Environment Bernadette Connolly - Cork Environmental Forum; Ollan Herr - Zero Waste Alliance; Sinead O’Brien - Sustainable Water Network (SWAN); Elaine McGoff - An Taisce; Charles Stanley-Smith - The Environment Pillar
Fisheries/Aquaculture Vacant
Forestry Brendan Fitzsimons - Tree Council of Ireland
General Consumers Connie Rochford, Keith Hyland, Laurie Kearon
National Federation of Group Water Schemes Barry Deane, Jean Rosney
Recreation Dr. Tim Butter (Irish Underwater Council)
Rivers Trusts Tom Harrington (Maigue Rivers Trust)
Social Housing Kevin Ryan (Irish Council for Social Housing)
Tourism Tim Fenn - Irish Hotels Federation (IHF)
Trade Unions Liam Berney - Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)

Prof. Tom Collins represents An Foram Uisce on the Water Advisory Board
Donal Purcell represents AFU on the Co-ordination and Management Committee for the River Basin Management Plan

Donal Purcell

Senior Executive Officer
Donal@nationalwaterforum.ie

Alec Rolston

Research Lead
Alec@nationalwaterforum.ie

Gretta McCarron

Communications and Education Lead
Gretta@nationalwaterforum.ie

Martina Ryan

Clerical Officer

martina@nationalwaterforum.ie

 

 

The Water Forum will debate and analyse issues related to integrated catchment management and the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, including, but not limited to:

  • Water as a resource
  • Issues of water quality
  • Rural water issues including oversight of the Rural Water Capital Investment Programme
  • Water issues relating to climate change
  • Issues affecting customers of Irish Water.

The Water Forum will submit reports and recommendations to the Water Policy Advisory Group (WPAC) and the National Co-ordination and Management Committee (NCMC) in relation to national policy in order that these be considered by the relevant Department(s) with responses conveyed back to the Forum including, if possible, attendances at a meeting of the Forum.

The Water Forum will endeavour to enhance public understanding of the value of water and the water environment.

The Water Forum will promote effective public participation, including the raising of public awareness on issues affecting water quality and to monitor progress.

The following are the principles by which the members of the Forum have agreed to conduct all aspects of its business:

  • Transparency and Openness – all documents will be made available to the Members and Forum minutes will be published on adoption
  • Fairness – the decisions/outputs of the Forum should be representative of the views of the group as a whole
  • Equality and Respect – all Members will be afforded equal opportunity to voice their opinion and contribute to the work of the Forum
  • Efficiency – it is recognised that time and resources will be limited. Therefore the work and meetings of the Forum will be managed in as efficient a manner as possible
  • Collegiality and Tolerance – the Members of the Forum will work together in the spirit of collegiality and tolerance
  • Common Goal – the Members of the Forum will work together towards a common goal of an improved water environment for all

Water Services Standing Committee

An Fóram Uisce, at its meeting held on the 10th April 2018, made a decision to establish a Water Services Standing Committee and in so doing, re-iterated its commitment to facilitating stakeholder engagement on all water services issues (including drinking water and waste water) at a national, strategic policy level with the common goal of improving the supply and quality of drinking water and protecting and restoring our waters.

The Standing Committee commenced its work in July 2018 and meets on a bi-monthly basis and on additional occasions as determined by the work programme.

The committee is required to debate and analyse issues related to drinking water and waste water, including, but not limited to:

  • Water conservation;
  • Rural water issues and;
  • The interests of the customers of Irish Water.

The Committee submits its reports for consideration at the plenary meetings of An Fóram.  It is chaired by Barry Deane and comprises of members including Jean Rosney/Joe Gallagher, Keith Hyland, Connie Rochford, Laurie Kearon, Dr. Suzanne Linnane, Denis Drennan, Kevin Ryan and Sinead O’Brien.

Catchment Management Standing Committee

An Fóram Uisce, at its meeting held on the 10th April 2019, made a decision to establish a Catchment Management Standing Committee and in so doing, re-iterates its commitment to facilitating stakeholder engagement on all catchment management issues at a national, strategic policy level with the common goal of restoring our waters and also improving the supply and quality of drinking water.

The role of the Committee includes responsibility to report to An Fóram at its plenary meetings in relation to the following Strategic Objectives:

  • Objective 1 – Lead the debate on water in Ireland.
  • Objective 3 – Review and advise on policy implementation in relation to the River Basin Management Plan and the Water Framework Directive.
  • Objective 6 – Lead public awareness and education on the value of water (as same relates to catchment management and in co-operation with the WSSC committee).
  • Objective 7 – Support and promote public consultation and engagement on all matters relevant to water.

The Standing Committee will consider and make recommendations to An Fóram in relation to the goals and actions identified in the Strategic Plan in relation to these objectives, as requested by An Fóram and/or as considered appropriate by the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee is chaired by Dr. Tom Collins and comprises of members including Charles Stanley Smith, Gerald Quain, Elaine McGoff, Sinead O’Brien, Brendan Fitzsimons, Neil Walker, Suzanne Linnane and Martin McEnroe.

The Standing Committee commenced its work in March 2018 and meets on a bi-monthly basis and on additional occasions as determined by the work programme.

Working groups

An Fóram establishes working groups as required by the work programme such as the decision at its meeting held on the 3rd September to establish a committee to organise the Symposium planned for early 2020.

The group, chaired by Dr. Tom Collins with members, Sinead O’Brien, Martin McEnroe, Dennis Drennan, Elaine McGoff supported by staff.

The Group provides progress reports on the Symposium programme, guest speakers and logistics to the Plenary Meetings of An Fóram in order to gain input and approval.

Plenary Meetings

The Water Forum holds a plenary meeting every 6 weeks approximately.

Minutes of plenary meetings are published in publications.

 

Submissions and reports

An Fóram has a responsibility to comment and submit in relation to national policies pertinent to water quality.

All submissions are listed in our publications.

 

Research reviews and reports

Sometimes it is necessary to seek outside expertise in order to make an informed submission. To this end An Fóram commissions research reports from experts on the required topics.

May 2019

Report to An Fóram on the Water Supply Project by Nelly Montblanc

July 2019

Desk Study on public engagement in Water Governance by Dr. Patrick Bresnihan

All reports are available in publications

 

Education resources

The Water Forum is currently developing its Education Strategy and resources will be available in due course.

 

Press Releases

The Water Forum comments on significant water management issues and regularly submits press releases on its work programme.

Press releases are available in publications

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