Press Release: LAWPRO held River Boyne workshop to develop a water quality community forum

Some of the River Boyne Workshop Participants at the end of the CCF workshop


Representatives from 30 different local community organisations were in attendance

Thursday, 4th of July 2024: The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) held a workshop on public participation in water catchment management in the Newgrange Hotel in Navan on Wednesday 26th of June.  LAWPRO is a national shared service working on behalf of 31 local authorities in Ireland coordinating efforts to achieve good water quality across the country.

Community groups and representatives from across the River Boyne Catchment Area (Meath, Westmeath, Offaly, Cavan, Louth, Kildare) met to discuss and co-design a community forum model for the Boyne catchment and catchments across Ireland, focused on improving local water quality and ways to actively include communities in the river basin management process.  This is part of a wider initiative nationally to develop a model for community and public participation as part of the next River Basin Management Plan which will be published shortly.

The River Basin Management Plan is Ireland’s roadmap for restoring and protecting water quality, across the 46 river catchments in Ireland. An ambition in the plan, is to put in place community fora that meet the needs of local communities when it comes to involvement in water quality management.

The River Boyne catchment was chosen as one of five pilot areas to for the workshops on account of its geography, its affected habitats as well as the wide range of sectors and industries operating within it but also its community capacity displayed in such innovative work as the Boyne Visioning from the Boyne Rivers Trust in 2023.

On the day of the workshop, Margaret Keegan, LAWPRO Regional Coordinator set the workshop context and outlined the importance of this work for enhance public participation in Ireland. Stephen Davis from the Midlands and East catchment science team in LAWPRO gave a presentation on the water quality status of the Boyne. Detailed maps of the water quality pressures for the Boyne were displayed on the day for attendees to review.

Caroline Gardner with Quality Matters outlined the purpose of the workshop and facilitated the session, with the support of LAWPRO staff from its catchment science and community teams. A range of questions and potential management scenarios for the participants were put forward for consideration and discussion including models for what a community forum may look like but primarily taking the communities views on board with all feedback recorded.

There were some questions specific to the Boyne Catchment concerning water quality challenges posed by different sectors including legacy drainage on reaches of the catchment in terms of hydromorphology impacts, urban wastewater treatment in towns and Agriculture. Other issues raised at the workshop were captured with a view to addressing in more detail at a later stage with the output from the process.

The River Boyne workshop in full Flow with active participants engaging on last Wednesday 26th June in Navan


Speaking after the workshop Rachael Fish, Athboy Tidy Towns said: “It was very informative, and it put us all on the spot in terms of our water challenges locally.  It would be great to keep in touch with the attendees afterwards and continue this water conversation given the great mix of ideas people had towards catchment management planning. It’s important this builds on previous work and communities have voices on their water heard in this process”.

Basil Mannion, Senior Community Water Officer with LAWPRO said: “We were delighted with the level of engagement from community organisations in the River Boyne catchment. These informative discussions will help LAWPRO to design a model for catchment community fora and have strongly highlighted the supports needed to implement at a local level. We know there is a strong community capacity within the Boyne area as displayed through the Boyne Visioning from the Boyne Rivers Trust in 2023.”

Quality Matters will take the workshop feedback and information and prepare a synthesis report which will be brought forward, along with the other pilot outputs to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for consideration during implementation of the next River Basin Management Plan.

Representatives on the day included the Boyne Rivers Trust, Boyne Catchment Angling Association, Navan & District  Angling Association, Kells Anglers, Longwood Anglers, Athboy Tidy Towns, Delvin Tidy Towns, Mullingar Tidy Towns, Virginia Tidy Towns, Drogheda Tidy Towns, Solstice Arts Centre, Wild About Navan, Meath Birdwatch, Trim Tidy Towns, Bettystown Tidy Towns, Friends of Castle Lake Catchment (Bailieborough), St. Annes Parish Green Group (Bailieborough),  Sonairte National Ecology Centre (Laytown), Ramparts Nature and Inland waterways Group (Navan), Meath Heritage and Historical Society (County wide), Boyne Currach Heritage Group (Slane), Free Trees Ireland (Oldcastle), Mullagh Sports Partnership, Edenderry Tidy Towns,  Clane Tidy Towns, Knockirr Bog Group, North Kildare Salmon and Trout Anglers and Kildare Bat Group (county wide) as well as interested private individuals.