The importance of water
Water is essential for all life: humans, animals, and plant life require water to survive. We use water for drinking, sanitation, food preparation and for agricultural and industrial purposes. The aquatic environment also provides a valuable amenity for recreation, leisure and tourism.
Water is a finite natural resource. It should be used efficiently, with a minimum of waste. We can only do this through effective planning for the future. In order to do this we need to look at every part of the water cycle; from rainfall through to drainage and the supply and treatment of drinking water.
Government has now published Sustainable Water - A Long-Term Water Strategy for Northern Ireland (2015-2040) to help achieve our vision to have a sustainable water sector in Northern Ireland.
With this in mind the following four high level aims have been developed by government to cover the key water needs within a catchment and they form the chapters of the Long-Term Water Strategy:
- provide high quality sustainable supplies of drinking water to households, industry and agriculture
- manage flood risk and drainage in a sustainable manner
- achieve the environmental requirements of the Water Framework Directive in a sustainable manner
- provide sustainable reliable water and sewerage services that meet customers' needs
While development of the strategy has been led by the Department the document itself was informed by all water stakeholders. The key stakeholders responsible for helping to prepare the Long-Term Water Strategy were Northern Ireland Water, Rivers Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the former Department for Regional Development (now DfI).
Consultation on the strategy
The Department launched a 16 week public consultation in June 2014 on a draft Long-Term Water Strategy. The document sought the views of the public on the proposed actions and way forward. These views helped inform the development of the final Strategy.
Strategy implementation action plan
A strategy implementation action plan has been prepared containing actions aimed at delivering the high level proposed measures in the Strategy. Actions will be a mix of short, medium and long term to cover the Strategy's 25 year outlook.
An annual report on Sustainable Water is published each year highlighting the programmes and plans that have been put in place to tackle areas of drinking water quality, flood risk, environmental requirements and water and sewerage services. Links to the annual reports are set out below.
- First Annual Report on Sustainable Water - A Long-Term Water Strategy for Northern Ireland 2016/17
- Second Annual Report on Sustainable Water - A Long-Term Water Strategy for Northern Ireland 2017/18
- Third Annual Report on Sustainable Water - A Long-term Water Strategy for Northern Ireland 2018/19
- Fourth Annual Report on Sustainable Water - A Long-term Water Strategy for Northern Ireland 2019/20
You can view all of the Sustainable Water – A Long Term Water Strategy documents on the following DfI pages: