River Basin Districts for the 2nd Cycle of the WFD (2015-2021)

Changes to Republic of Ireland River Basin Districts for the 2nd Cycle River Basin Management Plans

For the 2nd Cycle, the Eastern, South Eastern, South Western, Western and Shannon River Basin Districts will be merged to form one national River Basin District. This is explained on the Environment Protection Agency website:


   - Scotland RBD
Solway Tweed XRBD

   - Northumbria XRBD
   - North West RBD
Humber RBD
   - Severn XRBD
Anglian RBD
   - Thames RBD
   - South West RBD
South East RBD

RBD - River Basin District
XRD - Cross border RBD
IRBD - International RBD


   - Western Wales RBD

Northern Ireland:
   - North Eastern RBD
Neagh Bann IRBD
   - North Western IRBD

Republic of Ireland:
1st Cycle River Basin Districts:

   - Western RBD
Shannon IRBD
   - Eastern RBD
South Eastern RBD
   - South Western RBD

2nd Cycle River Basin Districts:
   - National RBD
International RBDs

This new national approach will require assessment and planning to be carried out at a variety of scales and the EPA is tasked with leading on the technical tasks with the support and assistance of local authorities. It has been decided that a national river basin plan should be supported by sub plans at sub-regional scales. The country will be divided into 46 catchment management units. The units are, in the main, based on the hydrometric areas already in use with the River Shannon being subdivided on the basis of the catchments of its major tributaries.

See the Significant water management issues consultation document for a map of the Catchment Management Units (page 9) and also for details of the new 3 tier governance structure for the WFD (page 25).


This SWMI consultation document also gives details of the 3 tier governance structure (page 25). A summary is also available on the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government website:



2nd Cycle River Basin Management Plans: 2015-2021

Work is now underway on the preparation of the next cycle of RBMPs covering the period up to the end of 2021. The RBMPs will describe the main pressures and activities affecting water status, set out the environmental objectives to be achieved up to 2021 and identify the measures needed to achieve these objectives. Draft RBMPs will be published by December 2016 and the plans will be finalised by the end of 2017.

In delivering the plans outlined above, Ireland is two years behind the timeframes stipulated in the WFD. Therefore, the second round of RBMPs in Ireland will be in place for 4 rather than 6 years and by the 3rd planning cycle Ireland should be back in alignment with the WFD timeframe.

2nd Cycle Timetable:

  • July 2014: DECLG publish the draft timetable and consultation arrangements for development of the second cycle RBMPs.
  • July 2015-December 2015: Significant water management issues (SWMIs) consultation for second cycle RBMPs, led by the Local Authorities at regional level.

  • December 2016 - June 2017: Draft second cycle River Basin Management Plan consultation, led by the local authorities at regional level. The draft second cycle RBMPs setting out the status of waters in the RBD; the proposed environmental objectives and the draft programme of measures to achieve those objectives by 2021, will be issued for views and comments at this stage.

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