We are the national statutory body representative of all stakeholders with an interest in the quality of Ireland’s water bodies. We aim to strengthen stakeholder input into decision making regarding water as a fundamental national asset.

An Fóram Uisce – the Water Forum was established as a statutory body in June 2018 having been provided for in the Water Services Act 2017.

Welcome

The purpose of An Fóram is to provide a vehicle for strengthening democratic input into decision making regarding water as a fundamental national asset. Such decisions are pivotal not only to society today but to the wider ecosystem and to posterity.

The global and national environmental challenge is multi dimensional. It includes global warming and climate change; the loss of biodiversity; the acidification of the oceans and the persistent decline in the quality of ground water and surface water bodies. These challenges become manifest in critical weather events, in geo-political conflict, in food security, in urban planning and in the broad thrust of economic opportunity and direction.

These challenges mean that the environmental question becomes central in all elements of global decision making and national policy.

Against this backdrop, the Forum provides a mechanism for feeding into the debate amongst stakeholders at national level. It does this by facilitating the sharing of information and perspectives; enhancing understanding and enriching policy formation.

There is also a need for greater public awareness on the centrality of high quality water, both as an end in itself but also as a barometer of the wider environmental and ecosystem health. The Forum aims to increase the consciousness of the public of the vulnerability of our water resource and on the interplay between individual behaviour, community, sectoral and societal norms and national policies.
In advising the Minister on objectives, approaches and initiatives relevant to the attainment of good status in our water bodies, the Forum is charged with taking on board the sometimes different or competing interests of its stakeholders while never departing from the core objective of water quality enhancement.

The Forum must constantly challenge itself to bring added value to this national project, complementing and critiquing the work of the many statutory bodies with a role in this field. Its diverse, interdisciplinary composition lends it a particular strength in this regard. Thus, it can contribute to the debate and the decision making on priorities; heighten public awareness of the water quality challenge through the many organisations represented on it; secure organisational buy-in or stakeholder consensus on conservation initiatives which might otherwise encounter public resistance and point to policy options which might not otherwise arise.

If the Forum, however, is to transcend the role of a brokerage function between competing interests, it must be motivated by an ethos of commitment to public service in its broadest sense and by the realisation of the holistic nature of the eco system which means that all individual acts either detract from or enhance the health of the totality.

Ireland has an extensive and impressive array of scientific/research and regulatory bodies and capability in the environmental domain. As the inter relationships between the different elements of environmental degradation become manifest, the need for integration and cohesion between these bodies, policy makers and the public becomes all the more pressing. This integration begins with a conversation and cannot happen without such a conversation. The Forum considers that a key part of its job is to ensure that this conversation happens.

An Fóram is the only statutory body representative of all stakeholders with an interest in the quality of Ireland’s water bodies. It consists of 25 members representing a wide range of organisations with direct connections to issues relating to water quality and also public water consumers. Approximately 50 different organisations were involved in the nomination of the members.

Stakeholders Members
Angling Martin McEnroe - Anglers
Agriculture Dominic Cronin - Irish Co-operative Society (ICOS); Denis Drennan - Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA); Derry Dillon - MACRA; Paul O'Brien - Irish Farmers Association (IFA)
Business Neil Walker - Irish Business & Employers Confederation (IBEC)
Community and Voluntary Issy Petrie - St. Vincent de Paul; Gerald Quain - Irish Rural Link
Education Dr Suzanne Linnane - Dundalk Institute of Technology
Environment Bernadette Connolly - Cork Environmental Forum; Ollan Herr - Zero Waste Alliance; Sinead O’Brien - Sustainable Water Network (SWAN); Dr Elaine McGoff - An Taisce; Charles Stanley-Smith - The Environment Pillar
Fisheries/Aquaculture Vacant
Forestry Brendan Fitzsimons - Tree Council of Ireland
General Consumers Connie Rochford, Keith Hyland
National Federation of Group Water Schemes Barry Deane, Jean Rosney
Recreation Dr Tim Butter (Irish Underwater Council)
Rivers Trusts Siobhan Ward (Moy Rivers Trust)
Social Housing David Wright
Tourism Tim Fenn - Irish Hotels Federation (IHF)
Trade Unions Liam Berney - Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)
Chairperson Dr Matt Crowe

Donal Purcell represents An Fóram Uisce – the Water Forum on the Water Advisory Body

Dónal Purcell

Senior Executive Officer     
 Donal@nationalwaterforum.ie

 

Aisling Corkery

Research & Policy Executive                  

Aisling@nationalwaterforum.ie

Gretta McCarron

Communications & Education Lead

Gretta@nationalwaterforum.ie

Triona McGrath

Research Lead
Triona@nationalwaterforum.ie

 Martina Ryan

Clerical Officer
Martina@nationalwaterforum.ie

 

 

The Functions of the Water Forum as set out in the Water Services Act 2017 Include:

  1. To advise the Minister in relation to Government water policy haveing regard to amongst other things, the following:
    1. water conservation
    2. rural water services
    3. the interests of the customers of Irish Water
  2. To make recommendations to Irish Water
    1. in relation to the performance by Irish Water in its functions, and
    2. when requested in writing in that behalf by Irish Water, on any policy document prepared by Irish Water
  3. To advise and provide observation to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU)#
    1. in relation to the performance by Irish Water of its functions
    2. when requested in writing on any consultation document prepared in respect of water services
  4. To advise the Water Policy Advisory Committee (WPAC)
    1. in relation to any River Basin Management Plan and implementation of the plan
    2. on matters pertaining to the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive
    3. on matters concerning the management of the inland aquatic environment and water resources
  5. To examine such other water-related matters including carrying out research concerning those matters, as the Minister requests the Forum to examine and to advise the Minister accordingly.

In addition to the above, the Water Forum endeavours to enhance public understanding of the value of water and the water environment. It advocates on the need for and benefits of meaningful public engagement and education on water resource management.

The following are the principles by which the members of the Forum have agreed to conduct all aspects of its business:

  • Transparency and Openness – all documents will be made available to the Members and Forum minutes will be published on adoption
  • Fairness – the decisions/outputs of the Forum should be representative of the views of the group as a whole
  • Equality and Respect – all Members will be afforded equal opportunity to voice their opinion and contribute to the work of the Forum
  • Efficiency – it is recognised that time and resources will be limited. Therefore the work and meetings of the Forum will be managed in as efficient a manner as possible
  • Collegiality and Tolerance – the Members of the Forum will work together in the spirit of collegiality and tolerance
  • Common Goal – the Members of the Forum will work together towards a common goal of an improved water environment for all

Water Services Standing Committee

An Fóram Uisce, at its meeting held on the 10th April 2018, made a decision to establish a Water Services Standing Committee and in so doing, re-iterated its commitment to facilitating stakeholder engagement on all water services issues (including drinking water and waste water) at a national, strategic policy level with the common goal of improving the supply and quality of drinking water and protecting and restoring our waters.

The Standing Committee commenced its work in July 2018 and meets on a bi-monthly basis and on additional occasions as determined by the work programme.

The role of the Committee includes responsibility to report to the Water Forum at its plenary meetings in relation to the following Strategic Objectives:

  • Advise the Minister on the formulation of national policy relating to water and wastewater services
  • Engage with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Housing (DHLGH) on rural water issues
  • Engage with Irish Water, Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, EPA and DHLGH on the deliver of water and wastewater services

The Committee submits its reports for consideration at the plenary meetings of the Forum.  It is chaired by Barry Deane and comprises of members including Dr  Connie Rochford, David Wright, Denis Drennan, Jean Rosney, Keith Hyland, Neil Walker,  Sinead O’Brien, Dr Suzanne Linnane and Dr Tim Butter.

Catchment Management Standing Committee

An Fóram Uisce, at its meeting held on the 10th April 2018, made a decision to establish a Catchment Management Standing Committee and in so doing, re-iterates its commitment to facilitating stakeholder engagement on all catchment management issues at a national, strategic policy level with the common goal of restoring our waters and also improving the supply and quality of drinking water.

The role of the Committee includes responsibility to report to the Water Forum at its plenary meetings in relation to the following Strategic Objectives:

  • Advise the Minister on the formulation of national policy relating to water
  • Review and advise on policy implementation in relation to the River Basin Management Plan and the Water Framework Directive
  • Identify and advocate for optimum level of engagement with the implementation structures of the River Basin Management Plan
  • Advocate for whole of Government approaches to water and environmental management
  • Complement and critique the work of implementing bodies and agencies to improve water quality outcomes

The Standing Committee will consider and make recommendations to An Fóram in relation to the goals and actions identified in the Strategic Plan in relation to these objectives, as requested by An Fóram and/or as considered appropriate by the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee is chaired by Dr Matt Crowe and comprises of members including Brendan Fitzsimons, Charles Stanley Smith, Connie Rochford, Denis Drennan, Dominic Cronin, Dr Elaine McGoff, Gerald Quain, Jean Rosney, Martin McEnroe, Sinead O’Brien, Siobhan Ward, and Dr Suzanne Linnane.

The Standing Committee commenced its work in March 2018 and meets on a bi-monthly basis and on additional occasions as determined by the work programme.

Working groups

An Fóram establishes working groups as required by the work programme.

 

Plenary Meetings

The Water Forum holds a plenary meeting every 6 weeks approximately.

Meeting Minutes of plenary meetings are available in publications

 

Policy Submissions, Policy Briefs & Observations

In accordance with the requirements of the Water Services Act 2017, the Forum has an advisory role in relation to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Irish Water, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities and also the Water Policy Advisory Body. Issues regarding rural water services is also a function of the Forum and are addressed through Policy Submissions, Policy Briefs and Observations.

All submissions are listed in our publications

 

Research Reports

Sometimes it is necessary to seek outside expertise in order to make an informed submission. To this end An Fóram commissions research reports from experts on the required topics.

We also have an agreed Research Strategy to inform our policy recommendations on particular water-related topics.

All research reports are available in publications

 

Education Resources 

The Water Forum has developed an Education Strategy and is currently working to implement the actions within this.

The Water Forum co-ordinates a water education  network to share resources and disseminate information.

Education and awareness resources are available in publications

 

Communications

The Water Forum has developed a Communications Strategy and is currently working to implement the actions within this.

The Water Forum hosts Symposia and Webinars on topics related to protecting our water resources and to disseminate information and encourage debate.

A quarterly Newsletter is published and submit articles to members newsletters and relevant magazines and journals.

Newsletters and updates on the Forum’s work is available on the News section on this site

Press Releases

The Water Forum comments on significant water management issues and regularly submits press releases on its work programme.

Press releases are available in publications

The Water Forum welcomes a new team member

We are delighted to welcome Dr Aisling Corkery, our new Research and Policy Executive, to the Water Forum team. Aisling has most recently worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with
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