Member States implemented the EU Water Framework Directive through River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) in six-year cycles. This process allows for assessment, planning, implementation, and review at regular intervals. Ireland’s approach to water quality management has developed over the first and second RBMPs and this will continue into the third cycle 2022 – 2027.

During the first and second cycles, we learned a great deal about the issues affecting water quality. We know the significant pressures and their effects at both national and local scales. The focus now moves towards finding solutions to address the issues. Achieving the targets set out in the RBMPs will need a whole of society approach. There is a role for national and local government, private interests and stakeholders, and local communities and individuals.

Good water quality is essential for public health and wellbeing. It supports growth in sectors like tourism, manufacturing, agri-foods, especially in rural areas. It is critical to biodiversity and a healthy natural environment. River Basin Management Plans are the roadmaps for achieving the required standard of good water quality in all rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries, and coasts.