Reservoirs Bill in Northern Ireland

The Department for Infrastructure (formerly the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development), introduced the Reservoirs Bill in the Assembly in early 2014 for the regulation of reservoir safety in Northern Ireland. Legislation for the regulation of reservoir safety in Northern Ireland was made in July 2015.

Ballyvoe reservoir, County Down
The Reservoirs Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 will now be brought forward to introduce regular inspections, monitoring, maintenance and repair.  Compliance with the Act will be overseen by the Reservoir Authority who can be contacted at 

Compliance with the Act will be overseen by the Reservoir Authority who can be contacted at: reservoirs.registry@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.

Further information on Reservoirs in Northern Ireland will be supplied on this page as the Act is commenced by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

What will the legislation do?

This Reservoir Bill aims to ensure that reservoirs are managed and operated to minimise any risk of flooding due to an uncontrolled release of water resulting from dam failure and therefore protecting people, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.

This legislation is being brought forward by DfI Rivers which will act as the Reservoir Authority.

The legislation will apply to reservoirs that are capable of holding 10,000 cubic metres or more of water above the natural level of the surrounding land. These reservoirs will be known as 'controlled reservoirs'.  

You can view the progress of the Reservoirs Bill on the NI Assembly website.

How was the safety policy developed?

The Department established a stakeholder group to assist in the development of the reservoir safety policy.

The group is made up of private owners of reservoirs as well as representatives from:

The purpose of the legislation

The purpose of the legislation is to create a legal and administration framework for regulating reservoir safety here. A summary of the key polices proposed to deliver this framework are available below.

Reservoir safety policy proposals

The purpose of the legislation is to create a legal and administration framework for regulating reservoir safety here. 

Public consultation

The public consultation on the draft Reservoir Safety Policy proposals took place from March to June 2012.

Consultation report and final reservoir safety policy

Following the public consultation and stakeholder engagement the final Reservoir Safety Policy was developed. In November 2012 the Executive agreed the final Reservoir Safety Policy and to the drafting of the Reservoirs Bill on this basis.

Survey of Reservoirs in Northern Ireland

At the request of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, DfI Rivers has carried out a survey of all 151 reservoirs in Northern Ireland, to assess the impact of the proposed reservoirs legislation on reservoirs that are regarded as community assets.

The results published in April 2013 reveal that:

  • 90 are considered a community asset
  • 76 are in public sector ownership, of which 64 are regarded as a community asset
  • 65 are owned by private and third sectors
  • 25 of the reservoirs owned by private and third sectors are regarded as community assests
  • 1 reservoir, regarded as a community asset - ownership unidentified
  • 19 are regarded as a tourist attraction
  • 45 are valued by the community for environmental and cultural reasons.

You can click the link below to view the full research documents:

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