Gap Analysis Interim Briefing Note

Source: EPA

This interim briefing note has been prepared by the EPA Catchments Unit for DHLGH. The aim of this interim briefing note is to provide an overview of the number of waterbodies that are impacted by activities relevant to DAFM, and to highlight the issues (e.g. P, N, sediment) that measures must target to improve water quality and meet Water Framework Directive (WFD) environmental objectives. Assuming all necessary measures are implemented, the note also provides a projection on the number of waterbodies where water quality can be improved and also the number of waterbodies where these measures will lead to waterbodies achieving their environmental objective.


As the note is an interim note, and the analysis is based on draft characterisation data and draft Pollution Impact Potential maps, some values may change, but overall the document provides a general overview of the extent of action that is required and what this action can achieve.

This note focuses on three distinct sections relevant to DAFM: Agriculture, Forestry and Land drainage/Channelisation

Controlled Activities for the Protection of Waters

“The D/HLGH proposes to ‘develop a new Controlled Activities for the Protection of Waters regime to address pressures on the physical condition of waters’ which will establish a new legislative framework that all parties including private landowners and public authorities such as the OPW will be obliged to comply with.” Feb 2022

No additional information available

IRELAND CHANGING THE SCALE OF HEAVILY MODIFIED WATERS BODIES DESIGNATED UNDER THE WATER FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE

Multiple water sector authorities in Ireland are finalising a process to review the Heavily Modified Water Body (HMWB) designation nationally in preparation for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) third cycle of River Basin Management Plan 2022-2027.

The largest grouping of waters which have being physically modified for a specified use are the national network of arterial drainage channels, comprising 11,500km of channel.

In compliance with the WFD, there is a prescribed process for the designation of water bodies as HMWB which embeds a series of requirements. OPW and EPA working collaboratively are executing this process and are moving to a position of designating arterial drainage a portion of channels as HMWB.

Hydromorphological pressures include physical alterations to channels and banks, alterations to the flow or water level regime, and the loss of connectivity within the adjoining floodplains. These pressures can include straightening, widening, deepening and dredging channels, removal of riparian vegetation, land drainage, abstraction, traditional flood protection structures and development adjacent to surface waters. In addition, structures such as culverts, locks, weirs and dams, act as barriers to the longitudinal continuity which can impact the migration of fish and eel and impede the natural siltation process i.e. downstream movement of riverine material from coarse gravels to fine silt.

Outline of the Arterial Drainage Maintenance Programme and Appropriate Assessment

Follow on response from OPW to AIE on Pre-Publication of Works Planned under the Scheme, Appropriate Assessments and Community Engagement


Statutory Requirement for Arterial Drainage Maintenance by the OPW

Following the passing of the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945, the OPW began investigations to determine where Arterial Drainage Schemes would be expedient and economically viable. The implementation of the Schemes began in the late-1940s.


The amendment to the Arterial Drainage Act in 1995 has changed the OPW focus from carrying out large scale catchment wide schemes for agricultural purposes to works on a more localised basis for the protection of property.


The OPW has a statutory duty to maintain the schemes that have been completed in proper repair and effective condition.


Today, the OPW’s annual arterial drainage maintenance works programme provides drainage outfall for 260,000 hectares (650,000 acres) of agricultural lands and comprises 11,500km (7,150 miles) of river channel and approximately 800km (500 miles) of embankments and are providing a level of protection from flooding to urban areas, critical infrastructure, including in excess of 20,000 properties.


This maintenance work is organised on a regional basis, with headquarters in Limerick, Headford, Co. Galway and Trim, Co. Meath.


To view the Arterial Drainage Schemes maintained by OPW click here:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c646ec-arterial-drainage-schemes/


Regular Maintenance Activities- 5 year cycle

The OPW has a statutory duty to maintain the schemes that have been completed under the Arterial Drainage Acts in proper repair and effective condition. Arterial Drainage (AD) maintenance is an ongoing programme of works of a cyclic nature.


Appropriate Assessments (AA) have been conducted in accordance with S.I. No. 477/2011 – European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, as amended, for all these maintenance works and these assessments are reviewed and updated every five years for each scheme.


Where the works are screened-in for Stage 2 AA, a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) is prepared in accordance with the Regulations. The AA documentation for each AD scheme for the current five year cycle is published on the OPW website.


By looking at the Bonet NIS 2019 to 2023 as referenced in our original correspondence, the AD maintenance for the Bonet catchment is described, the existing environment is described and then the potential impacts are assessed.


The OPW consults with the NPWS prior to making an AA Determination.

Up to this Summer, there was no statutory requirement for public consultation by the OPW prior to making an AA Determination.

In accordance with amendments to the Regulations introduced by S.I. No. 293/2021, the AA for the next 5 year cycle will include public consultation.

Using the Bonet example, the AA on AD maintenance activities for 2024-2028 will be carried out during 2023 and will include public consultation.


Site-specific activities

Additional appropriate assessments are carried out for certain site-specific works within a scheme.

In accordance with the Regulations as amended in 2021, AA Screening Determinations for site-specific activities will be published on the OPW website in advance of works. Where an AA is screened in, a NIS will be prepared and public consultation will be carried out prior to the making of an AA Determination.

The identification of site-specific works requirements is an ongoing activity throughout the year.

Where any site-specific works required in 2022 have already been identified in advance of year-end, these will be referenced in the OPW’s operational AD Maintenance Programme for 2022 outlined below and will be subject to the AA process as outlined.

Documentation on past site-specific assessments has now also been published according to year.

Work Programme

Each year, the OPW prepares an AD maintenance programme for internal operational use that identifies the proposed maintenance activities and locations within each AD scheme catchment area.

This programme is provided to IFI, NPWS and LAWPRO and consultations with these environmental stakeholders continue at regional level to assist OPW with programme delivery.

The annual programme is made available in hard copy at each Regional Office where a member of staff can assist a member of the public with any queries.

The OPW is working to make information from the programme for 2022 available on the OPW website in the form of pdf maps.

In carrying out the programme, the OPW needs to be flexible to address emerging priorities during the year as the scheduling of maintenance is dependent on a several variables such as weather and flood conditions, land use constraints, environmental windows etc.

Drainage District Channels

This data shows Drainage District (DD) Channels constructed under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s, that local authorities have a statutory obligation to maintain. These channels are either modified watercourses or constructed channels/drains to enhance the conveyance or constructed to modify the flow regime in an area. Drainage Districts were carried out under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s to improve land for for agricultural purposes.

Purpose: This data has been developed to support the maintenance of Drainage Districts carried out under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s. This work was initially carried out by the Commissioners of Public Works to improve land for agricultural purposes. Local authorities are now charged with the responsibility to maintain the Drainage Districts. Maps and descriptive documents, known as the Award, were created when these schemes were completed to describe the work carried out.

https://data.gov.ie/dataset/drainage-district-channels?package_type=dataset

https://s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/catalogue.floodinfo.opw/drainage_district_channels.zip

Drainage District Benefited Lands

This data shows Drainage District (DD) Benefiting Areas associated with the drainage districts constructed under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s, that local authorities have a statutory obligation to maintain. The benefited lands identifies land that was drained as part of the schemes. In the early schemes, large areas of bog were drained which facilitated peat extraction for fuel and horticulture and these are identified separately. Drainage Districts were carried out under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s to improve land for for agricultural purposes.

Purpose: This data has been developed to support the maintenance of Drainage Districts carried out under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s. This work was initially carried out by the Commissioners of Public Works to improve land for agricultural purposes. Local authorities are now charged with the responsibility to maintain the Drainage Districts. Maps and descriptive documents, known as the Award, were created when these schemes were completed to describe the work carried out.

https://data.gov.ie/dataset/drainage-district-benefited-lands?package_type=dataset

https://s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/catalogue.floodinfo.opw/drainage_district_benefitedland.zip

Drainage District Embankments

This data shows Drainage District (DD) Embankments constructed under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s, that local authorities have a statutory obligation to maintain. These are man made raised structures of natural materials, constructed to protect low lying ground from flooding (not properties). Drainage Districts were carried out under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s to improve land for for agricultural purposes.

Purpose: This data has been developed to support the maintenance of Drainage Districts carried out under a number of drainage and navigation acts from 1842 to the 1930s. This work was initially carried out by the Commissioners of Public Works to improve land for agricultural purposes. Local authorities are now charged with the responsibility to maintain the Drainage Districts. Maps and descriptive documents, known as the Award, were created when these schemes were completed to describe the work carried out.

https://data.gov.ie/dataset/drainage-district-embankments?package_type=dataset

https://s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/catalogue.floodinfo.opw/drainage_district_embankments.zip

Arterial Drainage Maintenance List of Activities 2016-2021

Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report

This is the Scoping Report for the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Arterial Drainage Maintenance Activities (2016-2021). Its purpose is to set out the likely significant environmental effects of the Arterial Drainage Maintenance Activities for the period 2016-2021. This report identifies the likely significant environmental impacts of drainage maintenance activities and outlines appropriate mitigation measures to reduce these effects.

Click to access c39ecd5994c54dd8bc7a84f7589c22be.pdf