“Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected defended and treated as such.” That statement is the opening line of the Water Framework Directive. It is a guiding principle for LAWPRO and underpins the value of water.

The European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) was signed into law in October 2000. It requires EU member States to achieve water quality of at least ‘good status’ in rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters, by 2027 at the latest. The WFD has been a pioneering piece of legislation because it mandates public participation, recognising the value of local knowledge and community involvement in decision making processes.

The WFD is implemented through River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) in three six-year cycles. Each cycle providing an opportunity to assess water conditions at different stages and set out actions to achieve water quality objectives.

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage is responsible for implementation of the WFD in Ireland. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage leads on the development and implementation of national river basin management plans. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leads on the technical expertise and science. Local authorities are responsible for the development and implementation of RBMPs at a local level. LAWPRO is coordinating a nationwide response on behalf of the 31 local authorities.