NI fails to make any significant progress on river basin management over last 6 years

Northern Ireland has failed to make any significant progress towards its river basin water quality targets over the last six years, a new draft plan to manage the region’s river basins has revealed.

The draft third cycle River Basin Management Plan published today (April 19) explained the status of the region’s water bodies has remained virtually unchanged since the last plan was published in 2015.

The management plan covers all of the region’s water bodies, including rivers, lakes, coastal and groundwater and will cover a six-year period from the start of 2022 to the end of 2027.

The latest assessment puts 38% of the region’s water bodies being at ‘good or better’ status, compared to 37% of bodies in 2015.

However, it’s barely over half way towards the 2021 target of 70% set in 2015. Whilst coastal and transitional water bodies remain almost unchanged, the region’s rivers and lakes have shown some deterioration.

River Basin Management Plan consultation

The River Basin Management Plan highlights that the water environment in Northern Ireland remains under pressure from human activity, most of which is related to agriculture and wastewater.

Northern Ireland Environment Minister Edwin Poots explained the public’s views are being sought on the measures within it to protect and improve the region’s water.

The consultation will remain open for six months, ending on October 10, 2021.

The plan is due to be published in December 2021 and will cover a six-year period from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2027.

The main pressures over the next six years are expected to be due to agriculture and waste water-related impacts.

Minister Poots said: “Everyone in Northern Ireland has a role to play in protecting and improving our water environment. This includes reducing pollution, supporting efforts to improve water quality and reducing water consumption and therefore the volume of waste water being generated.”

“Water is essential to our health and wellbeing, our bodies use it to enable our cells, organs, and tissues help regulate body temperature and maintain other bodily functions.

“It is also the lifeblood of our economy – we rely on it for our agriculture, food and drink, manufacturing, tourism and recreation and much more. Good quality water is also vital to enable our biodiversity and ecosystems to survive and flourish.”

“I urge everybody to have their say on this important consultation. The quality of our water matters to all of us and I welcome the public’s views on the issues we face and how best to address them.”