Irish Water seeks public feedback on its draft Regional Water Resources Plan for the Eastern and Midlands Region

14 December 2021

Statutory Public Consultation runs from 14 December 2021 to 14 March 2022

  • Draft Regional Water Resources Plan Eastern and Midlands assesses the needs within the 134 public water supplies in the region in terms of quality, quantity, reliability and sustainability.
  • The draft Regional Water Resources Plan Eastern and Midlands when delivered, will provide a strategic transformation from the existing fragmented supply to a more resilient and sustainable interconnected supply.
  • The identified solutions will support growth and economic development across the Eastern and Midlands Region
  • Reducing leakage in the regions from the existing baseline of 38% of regional demand to less than 22% of regional demand. 

Irish Water today begins a three month public consultation on the draft RWRP-EM which sets out the options for providing a more secure, reliable and sustainable water supply for 2.5 million customers in this region over the next 25 years.

Irish Water’s National Water Resources Plan will be the first resources plan for entire public water supply in Ireland. The National Plan will identify the needs across our existing supplies and the challenges and opportunities that we face over the coming years including, legislation, climate change, the environment, growth and economic development. The National plan will allow us to understand the actions and activities required to transform our water supplies in order to provide a safe, secure, reliable, and sustainable water supply for our current and future customers.  The National Plan will also provide a transparent roadmap for how Irish Water will plan for its water assets in order to align with national policy. 

Given that this is Ireland’s first water resources plan and the scale of the area to be covered, the National Plan is being rolled out in two phases. Following the adoption of the National Plan -Framework Plan (the Framework Plan) in the summer of 2021 Irish Water is now moving to phase 2 of the National Plan. This phase involves preparing four Regional Water Resources Plans where we apply the process set out in the Framework Plan to all of the 539 individual water supplies that make up the public water supply in Ireland.

The four regions are; 

  • Regional Water Resources Plan: North West  
  • Regional Water Resources Plan: South West  
  • Regional Water Resources Plan: South East  
  • Regional Water Resources Plan: Eastern and Midlands  

Each Regional Plan will be subject to its own consultation and, once adopted, all of the Regional Plans and the Framework Plan will be treated as a unified National Plan. The first regional plan to be developed is the draft Regional Plan   

There are 201 Water Treatment Plants (WTPs) in the Eastern and Midlands Region, which collectively serve 2.48 million people or 60% of the population of Ireland, via approximately 19,000 kilometres of distribution network and 134 Water Resource Zones. These treatment plants also serve 76,000 businesses. The region itself covers approximately 20,900 square kilometres extending from the Shannon Estuary in the south west, towards the large River Boyne catchment and Greater Dublin Area (GDA) in the north east.

The draft RWRP-EM describes the Eastern and Midland Region and the current challenges faced now and into the future in terms of delivering a safe, secure and resilient water supply. It identifies progress made to date, for instance, leakage reductions, capital investment works, and works in progress. It applies the methodology as adopted in the Framework Plan to (i) identify the Need across the 134 Water Resource Zones, in terms of quality, quantity, reliability and sustainability of supply, and (ii) identify Plan level solutions to meet this Need across the region.  

Speaking as the public consultation on the draft plan was launched, Angela Ryan, Water Resource Strategy Specialist for Irish Water said, “The development of the draft plan will allow Irish Water for the first time to review water supply needs collectively across the entire Eastern and Midlands Region covering a broad spectrum of risk including quality, quantity, reliability and sustainability. It will allow us to consider local options to resolve these needs and larger regional options that can address multiple supplies. The preferred options from the draft plan include:

  • Reducing the number of Water Resource Zones (WRZ) in the Eastern and Midlands Region from 134 to 93 and developing larger interconnected WRZs for the urban areas in the region.  This will allow a move away from a fragmented supply, with large variations in levels of service, to an interconnected supply with better outcomes for all water users.
  • Upgrades to 136 existing water treatment plants, in terms of quantity and quality performance.
  • Development of four new water treatment plants (WTPs).
  • Proposed decommissioning 66 WTPs.
  • Interconnecting 50 supplies via 860 kilometres of trunk mains.
  • Reducing leakage from the current level of 38% of regional demand to less than 22% of regional demand by 2033. This represents a 45% reduction in leakage from 2019 to 2034. This will be achieved through find and fix, pressure management, active leakage control and asset replacement.

Some of the outcomes and benefits of this regional preferred approach include improved performance across all water supplies in terms of quality, quantity which will result in less frequent interruptions to supply and fewer boil water. The draft Regional Plan will also offer key benefits in terms of transformation of our supplies, including the ability to cater for growth and economic development in a sustainable way, improved interconnectivity between our supplies to ensure balanced regional development, and new sustainable water sources that are adaptable to climate change such as the New Shannon Source which is coming from the largest catchment in Ireland.” explained Angela. 

Irish Water are now seeking feedback on the public consultation for the draft RWRP-EM and associated SEA Environmental Report and Natura Impact Statement , the documents are available to view on our RWRP Eastern Midlands section.

A thirteen-week statutory public consultation will run from the 14 December 2021 to 14 March 2022.

Submissions can be made by post or email by 14 March 2022.