The process to select the Priority Areas for Action used several principles. The most important one was that water bodies should be ‘At Risk’ of not achieving good or high water quality. It means that we are working in areas where water quality improvements need to be made. It also gave priority to following type of waterbodies:
- High status objective waterbodies more commonly referred to as Blue Dot waters
- Waterbodies in Protected Areas, that is waters that are used for drinking water supply, bathing, shellfish growing or waters that feed into habitats in Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)
- Waterbodies where the water quality has got worse or might worsen if we do not find the source of pollution
The number of water bodies needed to be reduced, so the following additional principles were used :
- Examine the water bodies where the river rises (headwaters) first
- The PAA should include water bodies at a sub-catchment scale, where practical
- Tackle multiple pollution sources together
- Link the catchment areas to existing programmes and community group initiatives, where possible
- PAAs should build on improvements or measures already planned
- The PAAs should ensure an even distribution of actions to address different pollution sources and catchment types across the regions
Regional Management Committees agreed the list of proposed Priority Areas for Action. A short public consultation process followed it. The 189 Priority Areas selected are identified on the map below.
Local catchment assessment is the term used to describe the work we do in each of the Priority Areas for Action. To find out more, click here.