Water Abstraction and Discharges (Northern Ireland)

Digital datasets of water abstraction licence application locations (except public water supplies) in SHP and GML format.



Abstraction & Impoundment Licensing Team
Water Management Unit
17 Antrim Road
County Antrim
BT28 3AL

Email: AIL@daera-ni.gov.uk

Northern Ireland abstraction database in Excel (840 records)

Irish bottled water imports/exports

The EPA note twenty one bottled water plants across Ireland. These include three categories of water – Natural Mineral Waters, Spring Waters and other Waters in Bottles or Containers

The locations/plants/abstraction data for bottled water abstraction is redacted in the EPA data, but the CSO publish the data on bottled water imports and exports

Water Abstraction by Bottled Water Producers

Abstraction of groundwater does not generally require authorisation and groundwater abstracted for bottled water production is not monitored by local authorities or by the Department to determine its quality or to control abstraction volumes.

The European Union (Natural Mineral Waters, Spring Waters and other Waters in Bottles or Containers) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 282 of 2016) places a responsibility on the producers of bottled water to ensure the source is protected and sets the quality and the treatment standards for the final product. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is the competent authority for enforcement of these Regulations.

The EPA has compiled a database of known water abstractions as part of the development of the draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021. The database identifies twenty one bottled water plants across Ireland with production volumes ranging between 106 cubic meters per day at the largest plant to just 41 litres per day at the smallest plant. However, these amounts relate to the volume of the final product produced and do not take into account any water abstracted which might be used as part of the production process.


Note: List of (2) natural mineral waters recognised by Ireland

(In accordance with Article 1 of Directive 2009/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters)

Glenpatrick Spring
Powerstown, Clonmel,
Co. Tipperary

Newcastle west,
Co. Limerick

Guidelines for the frequency of routine official control sampling and analysis of bottled water

As required by Council Directive 98/83/EC (as amended by Commission Directive (EU) 2015/1787), the frequency of routine official control sampling and analysis should be based on risk. As a minimum, one partial and one full monitoring sample should be taken per year. The frequency should be reviewed annually and revised (either reduced or increased) based on risk, taking into account factors such as:
• Confidence in management
• Borehole construction
• Age of borehole
• Protection of the source
• History of sample results
• Change in land use
• Suspicion of, or known, pollution events
• Change of activities in the local area
• Changes to extraction rates.

Spring Water

Directive 2009/54/EC does not specify minimum frequencies for the sampling and analysis of spring water by the official agency. The frequencies should be based on risk and can be adjusted accordingly when statistical trends on the microbiological qualities are established. In order to establish a profile of the microbiological composition of the water during production, it is suggested that samples should be taken at various locations, e.g. at source, during marketing and at the point of bottling.

Other Water

The HSE Environmental Health Service is the responsible authority for the enforcement of all food legislation in ‘other water’ establishments. Unlike natural mineral water, there is no legal requirement for recognition of ‘other water’. The provisions of Council Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water (sold in bottles or containers) intended for human consumption apply to ‘other water’. ‘Other water’ means drinking water which is bottled and is neither described as spring water or a recognised natural mineral water. ‘Other water’ can come from a variety of sources, e.g. groundwater and public water supplies.

Guidance for the assessment of compliance of legislation applicable to natural mineral waters, spring waters and other water (Revision 1) (2019)

Sample enforcement action (bottled water)

Reason: The detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in exceedance of the parametric value.


Celtic Pure Unlimited,
Shercock Po,
Co. Monaghan

Products Recalled:

Enforcement Notice

Celtic Pure: Recall of Branded Bottled Waters Due to Elevated Levels of Arsenic


AIE 20/4/22

The European Union (Natural Mineral Waters, Spring Waters and other Waters in Bottles or Containers) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 282 of 2016) places a responsibility on the producers of bottled water to ensure the source is protected and sets the quality and the treatment standards for the final product. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is the competent authority for enforcement of these Regulations.  The EPA identifies twenty one bottled water plants across Ireland

Under the AIE Regs to request

1) List of bottled water plants, with their names and locations that fall within the FSAI regime, for natural mineral water, spring water and ‘other’ water

2) Summary report on the microbiological safety of bottled water for 2021

3) Copy of the inspection report / enforcement letter for each bottled water plant where exceedances were detected in 2020, 2021 and 2022

4) Details of any referral to competent authorities in other countries of origin where samples in Ireland tested unsatisfactory

Waterways Ireland: Water Abstraction and related powers (under 1986 Canals Act)

The most recent legislative basis for the navigation’s water supply is the 1986 Canals Act, of particular reference is Section 6 set out below.

Powers of Commissioners

6 – The Commissioners shall have all powers as are necessary for the performance of their functions under this Act and shall without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, have power to undertake the care, management, control maintenance, repair, improvement and development of the canals and other canal property and to –

(a) Draw any water necessary for the purposes of the canals from any source whatsoever from which the Board was entitled to draw such water before the vesting day, whether by virtue of any enactment or otherwise;

(a) Dredge, widen, deepen, alter the course of or otherwise improve the canals or improve the supply of water for the canals and for that purpose to dredge, widen or deepen any stream, river, drain or channel carrying any such water supply and replace or repair any pipe carrying any such supply;

(b) Construct, alter, underpin or improve any lock, quay, harbour, drydock, weir, fishpass, slipway, pumping station, building, towpath, bridge, aqueduct, embankment, culvert or road (other than a public road within the meaning of Local Government (Roads and Motorways) Act, 1974) on, over or beside the canals;

(c) Acquire and dispose of any land or any easement or other right over land and may, if necessary, in accordance with the Second Schedule. Acquire compulsorily any land or any easement or other right over land;

(d) Alter the water levels of the canals without prejudice to the right of the Board or any other person to receive water from the canals;

(e) Close to navigation any part of a canal not required for navigation and reopen and declare navigable any part of a canal previously closed to navigation

(f) Lease or let to any person canal property and license the use of the canals and canal water by any person.


Given the historic nature of Waterways Ireland’s water supplies for navigation, these (water abstractions) are not mapped nor are the volumes recorded. The volume of water required varies by season by availability of water in a supply, demand depends on volume of traffic, weather, etc.

Waterways Ireland: Approvals for Water Abstraction from Canals

​​​​​​Anyone wishing to abstract water from a navigation requires approval from Waterways Ireland.

Due to restrictions on the availability of water for the canals Waterways Ireland in principal does not favour new water abstractions from the Royal Canal, Grand Canal or the Barrow line of the Grand Canal.

Permission when granted is normally by way of a licence with an annual charge based on the amount of water abstracted.


AIE: list of current water abstractions licensed by Waterways Ireland, with :

  • Licensee
  • Location of abstraction
  • Brief description of abstraction including specific details regarding the intended use and proposed amount to be abstracted
  • Details of any environment or heritage impact studies for the abstractions including appropriate information on the nature of the proposed facility, the physical and chemical characteristics of the proposed discharge, if any, and a hydrological assessment of the potential impacts of the abstraction on the hydrology of the watercourse, particularly during low flows
  • If applicable, the detail, location and nature of any pollution prevention measures related to the abstraction

Owenriff Priority Area for Action Desktop Report

Jan 2020


The main pressure in this waterbody is hydromorphology from channelisation, which changing the hydrological and morphological dynamics of the river.

In terms of hydro morphology, there are historic OPW arterial drainage schemes, liaising with the OPW will be required to determine how to restore the waterbodies affected in the Owenriff PAA to their natural habitat. There are also historic land drains leading into the four river waterbodies in the PAA that maybe transporting volumes of sediment to the waterbodies, drain blocking will be required in these cases.

Forestry and peat extraction

Water Abstraction: Interactions with the Water Framework Directive & Groundwater Directive and Implications for the Status of Ireland’s Waters

Source: SWAN

The lack of coherent and comprehensive regulations on water abstraction in Ireland is in breach of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and must be rectified to ensure compliance. New legislation must be enacted to ensure the responsibilities of the state are conducted. The aim of this research project is to provide SWAN and member organisations with:

– An assessment of the impacts of abstraction on surface water, groundwater and
groundwater-dependant terrestrial ecosystems;
– An overview of relevant policy and legislation pertaining to water abstraction in Ireland;
– A qualitative survey of relevant stakeholders to inform on abstraction management; and
– Recommendations for effective measures, under the WFD, to control abstractions.

Currently, the available information on water abstraction is not sufficient to accurately characterise its impacts in Ireland. The location of abstraction points and the volumes that are abstracted for the majority of abstraction points on both a total and temporal basis are unknown. This makes it impossible to accurately assess the impacts of abstraction on a local or regional scale. Any legislation that is enacted must address this data gap and provide accurate information on which sound management decisions can be based.