DfI Rivers - an overview

Part of: DfI management and structure

Vision and aims


Our vision is to manage the flood risk to facilitate the social, economic and environmental development of Northern Ireland.


To support this vision DfI Rivers aims to reduce the risk to life and damage to property as a result of flooding from rivers and the sea. This involves undertaking watercourse and coastal flood risk management is a sustainable manner.

To achieve our aims and vision, we will as resources permit, take forward the implementation of the NI Flood Risk Management Plans 2015-21, developed as a requirement of the EU Floods Directive.


In support of these aims DfI Rivers' objectives are to:

  • Implement sustainable flood risk management policies to facilitate development management and planning decisions.  This assists in meeting society’s social, environmental and economic needs;
  • reduce the number of properties currently at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea;
  • maintain flood defence and drainage infrastructure in a satisfactory condition;
  • maintain as necessary the designated watercourse network;
  • provide flood maps and risk information;
  • discharge our Lead Government Department responsibility of the co-ordination for the Emergency response to flooding incidents.
  • support and motivate all our people to achieve DfI Rivers' objectives; and
  • deliver quality services for our customers and stakeholders in a fair and equitable way.

Please inform us if you have any feedback or contact us if you require more information. 

Statutory authority

The powers delegated to DfI Rivers by the Department for Infrastructure as the statutory Drainage and Flood Defence authority for Northern Ireland derive from the Drainage (NI) Order 1973 as amended.

Enabling legislation

  1. The Drainage (Northern Ireland) Order 1973 - the legislative basis for carrying out watercourse maintenance work and flood defence schemes.
  2. The Lough Neagh and Lower Bann Drainage and Navigation Act (Northern Ireland) 1955 - sets the statutory duty to regulate the levels of the Lough within prescribed limits as far as weather permits. 
  3. The Lough Neagh Drainage (Amendment) Act 1970 - extended the Department's obligation to take account of other interests with regard to Lough level management.
  4. The Drainage (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 - applies to all drainage and flood defence proposals and ensures an assessment of the environmental impact and public consultation on all drainage works and schemes. 
  5. The Drainage (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 - gives the Department two new powers namely:
  • a power to make orders to dissolve drainage trusts
  • a power to make regulations to charge for drainage infrastructure works to facilitate development
  1. The Drainage Trusts (Dissolution) Order (Northern Ireland) 2006 - dissolves the drainage trusts listed in the schedule and extinguishes all rights, duties, obligations, and liabilities arising under the trusts. The Order also provides for the department to dispose of any property forming part of the trusts and to put the funds to the Consolidated Fund.

Other relevant legislation

The Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 - requires the Department to have regard for environmental factors when carrying out functions under Drainage Legislation.

DfI Rivers' Senior Management Team

DfI Rivers is headed by a Director and Heads of Business Units which span three areas of business – Operations, Development and Corporate Services. The Senior Management Team ensures that DfI Rivers carries out its statutory functions and activities, which are governed by primary legislation and regulations.

The Director of DfI Rivers is also the Accounting Officer and is responsible for the financial management of the DfI Rivers' resources within budgets and protocols set by Government. 

Director - Jonathan McKee

Jonathan is currently the Director of DfI Rivers, the flood defence and drainage authority for Northern Ireland. DfI Rivers is responsible for river and sea defence maintenance, the construction of flood alleviation schemes, the provision of flood maps and risk information and it carries out the role of Lead Government Department for flood emergency events throughout Northern Ireland.

Head of DfI Rivers Operations - Owen McGivern

Owen was appointed Head of Operations in April 2015. Owen joined DfI Rivers in 2005. He has managed the in-house Design Unit and was Eastern Regional Engineer with responsibility for the Lisburn, Greater Belfast Area and Armagh Offices. He has also managed the DfI Rivers’ Capital Procurement Unit.  Prior to joining DfI Rivers he worked for NI Water.

Head of DfI Rivers Development - Jim Martin (Acting)

The Head of Rivers Development post is currently vacant and is being filled on a temporary promotion basis by Jim Martin.  Jim joined DfI Rivers from DfI Roads in 1997, taking up a post as Deputy Area Engineer in the Omagh Area.  He has since fulfilled a range of roles in the Design Unit, Health and Safety and Environment Section, Policy Unit and most recently acted as Armagh Area Engineer and Eastern Regional Engineer.

Corporate Support Services - Shaun Donnelly

Shaun was appointed Head of Corporate Support Services in June 2013.
Shaun has finance experience in both the public and private sector.

DfI Rivers Business Units

DfI Rivers is headed by a Director and is comprised of three Business Units:

  • Operations
  • Development
  • Corporate Support Services


There are three business units within Operations:

  • Eastern Region;
  • Western Region; and
  • Capital Projects (Major and Minor).

Regional Area Offices

Eastern Region maintains and protects the river drainage network across Armagh, Lisburn and Greater Belfast Areas. Western Region maintains and protects the river drainage network across Omagh and Coleraine Areas plus the Fermanagh Sub-Area.  Western Region also looks after the operational procurement, stores and management of Rivers fleet of vehicles.

The regional teams are also responsible for the following key functions:

  • maintenance of a network of watercourses to provide adequate outlets for urban storm and land drainage;
  • maintenance of flood and sea defences;
  • identifying flood risks and undertaking minor works to repair and construct urban flood defences, culverts and provide drainage infrastructure;
  • administering advisory and enforcement procedures to protect the drainage function of all rivers;
  • provision of a fast and effective flood emergency response with a view to mitigating any threat to life or property;
  • responding to complaints and enquiries;
  • utilising available resources to maintain the effectiveness of the Department’s assets during periods of adverse weather and threat to life and property from flooding;
  • responding where possible to requests for assistance from the public whose property has suffered or is threatened by flooding. Liaising with other statutory and public bodies to provide an effective response to flooding or threat of flooding;
  • Emergency Planning & Chair of the Southern Severe Weather Working Group - Eastern Region; and
  • Emergency Planning & Chair of the Northern Severe Weather Working Group - Western Region.

Additionally Western Region also looks after the following functions:

  • regulation of water levels on Lough Neagh and Lough Erne;
  • purchasing and maintenance of plant, vehicles and equipment;
  • provision and maintenance of store facilities; and
  • operational procurement.

Capital Projects Unit

This unit identifies and delivers cost viable river engineering schemes to minimise identified flood risks. It is based at Loughry and consists of two sections, Capital Projects Major and Minor Works and Design Section.  This unit carries out the majority of its functions through a Partner Consultant (Amey). The Design Section undertakes design and site supervision of some schemes via an in-house team of staff. A prioritised programme of schemes is delivered under the following headings:

  • Flood Alleviation Schemes – generally new culverts, walls, embankments, storage, open watercourse upgrade; and
  • Drainage infrastructure Schemes – generally repair and construction of culverts, weirs and control structures.

The major schemes typically cost more than £1.5m and have been identified through the Flood Risk Management Plans for Northern Ireland which were published in December 2015.


There are four business units within Development:

  • Emergency Planning (EPU);
  • Asset Management & Mapping Unit (AMMU);
  • Planning Advisory & Modelling Unit (PAMU); and
  • Reservoirs Authority.

Emergency Planning Unit

Emergency Planning Unit (EPU) carry out the emergency planning co-ordination duties within DfI Rivers. Key areas of responsibility include:

  • Lead Government Department (LGD) responsibilities for the co-ordination of flooding emergencies.
  • managing the implementation of the Homeowner Flood Protection Grant Scheme.
  • delivering Community Resilience. EPU co-chairs, Regional Community Resilience Groups (RCRG).
  • Emergency Preparedness Groups. EPU represents DfI Rivers on the Emergency Preparedness Groups (EPGs) for civil contingencies in Northern Ireland.
  • manage the implementation of independent audit reports and, as appropriate, co-ordinate multi-agency reviews (with associated reports and action plans) arising from significant flood events.

EPU also includes the Hydrometrics team who are responsible for:

  • managing, maintaining and enhancing the Northern Ireland Surface Water Network currently consisting of over 130 river level monitoring stations;
  • collating water level and river gauging information to contribute to the ‘National Archive’ and determine flow return periods to facilitate flood alleviation scheme design and accurate flood mapping;
  • providing near to real-time river level information to inform Rivers and other multi-agency partners’ response to flooding; and
  • monitoring the coastal water level network which involves liaising with Met Office and UK Coastal Flood Forecasting counterparts to identify problematic storm surges which can raise sea levels and cause flooding.

Asset Management and Mapping Unit

Asset Management Unit

Asset Management is responsible for the inspection, grading and valuation of drainage and flood defence infrastructure and incorporates an Environment Section.  The Unit delivers the following:

  • establishment and monitoring of Asset Management Plans for flood defences;
  • maintain databases of physical above and below ground assets;
  • condition grading of assets and valuation year end;
  • inspection of the fluvial and coastal flood defences through a programme of risk based inspections;
  • carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping studies on all new capital works; and
  • advice on timing, methodology and potential impact of maintenance works.

Mapping Unit

Mapping is responsible for developing and providing map based information to enable the assessment and communication of flood risk.  Key areas of responsibility include:

  • Development and Maintenance of Flood Hazard and Flood Risk Mapping for all sources of flooding (fluvial, coastal and pluvial), in support of the requirements of the EU Floods Directive;
  • Development and Maintenance of Reservoir Flood Mapping for Emergency Planning and for Development Planning (FLD5); and
  • Liaison with our Strategic Business Partner, Land and Property Services (LPS) to have access to their expert staff and on the management of jointly branded flood mapping products (including online map services to customers).

Planning Advisory & Modelling Unit (PAMU)

PAMU is based in Craigavon and provides advice to Planning Authorities on the drainage/flood risk aspects of the forthcoming Local Development Plans and planning applications with a view to prevent inappropriate and unsustainable development.

The unit’s key functions are:

  • advising Planning Authorities in relation to inappropriate development on floodplains, or elsewhere, that may increase risk to life and damage to property through flooding as outlined in Planning Policy Statement PPS15 (Revised): Planning and Flood Risk;
  • advising Planning Authorities on other river drainage aspects that may be impacted as a result of planning applications;
  • scrutiny of flood risk assessments submitted by developers as part of planning applications;
  • acting as key contact with the Planning Authorities in relation to matters concerning flood risk and land use planning;
  • input to the Storm Water Management Group dealing with the emerging Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) policy for Northern Ireland; and
  • liaising with Planning Authorities to ensure that development and flood risk policies in Local Development Plans (LDPs) are robust and consolidate the principles that underpin PPS15.

Flood Modelling

This Unit contributes to the progression and management of feasibility studies to identify viable flood alleviation schemes. It is based in Craigavon and delivers the following:

  • provision of expert technical advice regarding Flood Mapping & Modelling products;
  • manage and update the DfI Rivers library of ‘infoWorks ICM’ hydraulic models to inform:
    • production of Flood mapping;
    • the EU Floods Directive Implementation; and
    • the Living with Water Programme – Strategic Drainage Infrastructure Plan.

Reservoirs Authority

DfI Rivers will ultimately be responsible for the administration of the Reservoirs Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

When fully commenced, the Act will provide for the regulation of structures or areas capable of holding 10,000 cubic metres or more of water above the natural level of the surrounding land. These are Controlled Reservoirs.

The provisions of the Act are based on industry best practice in respect of reservoir management to minimise the risk of flooding due to an uncontrolled release of water resulting from dam failure, in order to protect people, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.

DfI Rivers Reservoirs Authority will administer the key provisions of the Act as they are commenced by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Corporate Support Services

Provides guidance to formulate and implement DfI Rivers' policies. It ensures proper communications between DfI Rivers' and its customers, other Agencies, Departments and Ministers, and enables financial planning control and accountability for DfI Rivers.  The Unit also provides comprehensive administrative, financial, training and development and human resources support services.  This Unit also provides secretariat and administrative support to the Drainage Council for Northern Ireland, a non-Departmental Public Body which carries out a general scrutiny on the drainage functions of the Department.

Corporate Services Business Unit consists of four sections:

  • Business Support
  • Finance
  • Reservoir Authority
  • Lough Erne Estate Management

Contact DfI Rivers

The appropriate DfI Rivers office can be contacted by telephone, in writing or by email. If you have a complaint DfI Rivers has customer service standards in place which includes a complaints procedure.

DfI Rivers Headquarters

DfI Rivers HQ
49 Tullywiggan Road
BT80 8SG

Telephone: 028 8676 8342
Email:  rivers.registry@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

Greater Belfast area

District council areas covered by this office:

  • Mid & East Antrim
  • Antrim & Newtownabbey
  • North Down and Ards
  • Lisburn and Castlereagh
DfI Rivers Greater Belfast Area
Ravarnet House
Altona Road
BT27 5QB

Telephone: 028 9260 6100
Email: rivers.belfast@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

Lisburn office

District Council areas covered by this office:

  • Causeway Coast and Glens
  • Mid and East Antrim
  • Antrim and Newtownabbey
  • Lisburn and Castlereagh
  • North Down and Ards
  • Newry, Mourne and Down
DfI Rivers Lisburn
Ravarnet House
Altona Road
BT27 5QB

Telephone: 028 9260 6100
Email: rivers.lisburn@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

Coleraine office

District Council areas covered by this office:

  • Derry and Strabane
  • Causeway Coast and Glens
  • Mid and East Antrim
  • Mid Ulster
  • Antrim and Newtownabbey
DfI Rivers Coleraine
37 Castleroe Road
BT51 3RL

Telephone: 028 7034 2357
Email: rivers.coleraine@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

(Please note all requests for information relating to the location of any watercourses or DfI Rivers apparatus in a specific area should be sent to rivers.registry@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk)

Armagh/Plant Unit

District Council areas covered by this office:

  • Mid Ulster
  • Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon
  • Newry, Mourne and Down
DfI Rivers Craigavon
44 Seagoe Industrial Estate
Seagoe Lower
BT63 5QE

Armagh Rural Area:
Telephone: 028 3839 9111
Email: rivers.armagh@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

Plant Unit

DfI Rivers Plant Unit
44 Seagoe Industrial Estate
Seagoe Lower
BT63 5QE

Telephone: 028 3839 9125
Email rivers.plant@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

Planning Advisory Unit

DfI Rivers Planning Advisory Unit
44 Seagoe Industrial Estate
Seagoe Lower
BT63 5QE

Telephone: 028 3839 9118
Email: rivers.registry@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

Fermanagh contacts

District Council areas covered by this office:

  • Fermanagh and Omagh
DfI Rivers Fermanagh
BT94 2NA

Telephone: 028 6638 8529
Email: rivers.fermanagh@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

(Please note all requests for information relating to the location of any watercourses or DfI Rivers apparatus in a specific area should be sent to rivers.registry@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk).

Omagh contacts

District Council areas covered by this office:

  • Mid Ulster
  • Fermanagh and Omagh
  • Derry and Strabane
DfI Rivers Omagh
Western Regional Office
3a St Julians Road
BT79 7HQ

Telephone: 028 8225 4900
Email: rivers.omagh@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

(Please note all requests for information relating to the location of any watercourses or DfI Rivers apparatus in a specific area should be sent to rivers.registry@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk)


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