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The EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) requires all Member States to protect and improve water quality in all waters so that we achieve good ecological status by 2015 or, at the latest, by 2027. It was given legal effect in Ireland by the European Communities (Water Policy) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 722 of 2003). It applies to rivers, lakes, groundwater, and transitional coastal waters.

The Directive requires that management plans be prepared on a river basin basis and specifies a structured method for developing these plans.  River basin management plans, which are reviewed and prepared every six years after extensive public consultation, are designed to protect and improve the water environment.  The 3rd cycle River Basin Management Plan for 2022-2027 is currently being finalised.  More information on the River Basin Management Plan 2022-2027 can be found here and at the link below.