Development of a high-level technical process and detailed participation strategy to support the implementation of Water Resources Management Strategies in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Phase 2: WRMS in Northern Ireland.

November 2004


Background to the research: The Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires the introduction of new regulatory regimes for abstraction and impoundment that are planned and managed at river basin and catchment levels. The agencies responsible for the administration of these new requirements (SEPA for Scotland, and EHS for Northern Ireland) wish to develop an approach for the catchment-based management of water resources that:

The approach involves the development of Water Resources Management Strategies (WRMS), which have been designed to be a key mechanism for the involvement of the public and stakeholders in the management of water resources.

Objectives of the research: The overall purpose of the project was to develop the framework for WRMS to include the specific requirements of water resource management, and to indicate the scale of public and stakeholder involvement at the various stages of assessment and management. The criteria were that the WRMS framework needs to:

Under Phase 1 of the project, the high-level technical process for WRMS and a detailed participation strategy were developed. Phase 1 has been reported separately.

The overall aims of Phase 2 of the project were to provide more detail on how the technical methodology could be applied in Northern Ireland, and to extend the brief consultation process to key stakeholders in Northern Ireland.

Key findings of the research:

This report contains the findings of Phase 2 of the project, that is, the application of the WRMS approach to Northern Ireland. The high-level technical process for WRMS is flexible enough to be just as applicable in Northern Ireland as it is in Scotland. The four main stages of the high-level technical process are as follows:

Similarly, there can be a common participation strategy in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. Key aspects of the participation strategy are as follows:

Potential tools and methodologies for undertaking the assessment of water resources (under Stage 2 of the technical process) were reviewed. The ones chosen for review were: DHRAM, RAM Framework, Low Flows 2000, numerical groundwater models, SWALP, WEAP, Aquator, and TOPOG. Various approaches to the setting of flow thresholds in rivers were also reviewed briefly, particularly in relation to the impact of low-head hydro-power schemes.

Consultation, in the form of structured interviews, was undertaken with the following stakeholders: Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure; Rivers Agency; British Hydropower Association; WWF; Water Service; and the Ulster Angling Federation.

Recommendations for uptake: The focus of short-term efforts should be on the collection of data on direct anthropogenic impacts on water resources. Discussions should be held between relevant bodies on existing tools in Northern Ireland, and there should be a review of the work required to adapt Low Flows 2000 to Northern Ireland. Any improvements to the river gauging network should be tied in to the requirements of the chosen tool, the WFD, and future plans for abstraction licensing.

Key words: water resources management, catchment, equitable allocation, environment, participation, consultation, stakeholder, Water Framework Directive.

Copies of this report are available from the Foundation in electronic format on CDRom at 20.00 + VAT or hard copy at 25.00. less 20% to FWR members.

N.B. The report is available for download from the SNIFFER Website