Capturing the key lessons for Ireland in relation to water stewardship, outlining a national roadmap for Water Stewardship in industry and agriculture.

Identifying Pressures

At a national level, both the environmental and the economic pressures associated with industrial and agribusiness water use are significant and growing, representing almost 70% of the > 3 billion litres of water used nationally each day. Poor supply headroom, flooding and increased pollution risks are resulting in a wide range of ecological, social and competitiveness impacts. At a river basin level, significant challenges remain in managing these risks in the context of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and River Basin Plans, whereas, at a production site level, water stewardship has become a key performance consideration and investment parameter.

Informing Policy

Water stewardship principles and standards provide an overarching mechanism for industrial and agricultural water users to systematically link WFD obligations, local river basin plans and commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals to on-site water management activity. The report outlines a number of key policy lessons including the need for:

the development of a National Water Stewardship policy and associated awareness programme across key stakeholders;

the establishment of a National Water Stewardship Standards Committee for both industry and agriculture in Ireland;

enhanced recognition of the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate as the custodian of water in Ireland;

an enhanced ecosystem of supports, incentives and recognition for good water stewards nationally including small and medium-sized enterprises, farms, processors and the wider industry;

greater and more explicit linkage of current national initiatives to European and global Water Stewardship activity.

Developing Solutions

Following extensive desk research and a process of national and international consultation, this report captures key lessons for Ireland in relation to water stewardship and outlines a first of its kind, integrated national roadmap for Water Stewardship in industry and agriculture with a view towards establishing the country as a leader in the adoption of water stewardship best practice both nationally and internationally in the years ahead.

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