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Long Term Water Strategy

Water is essential for all life: humans, animals, and plant life require water to survive. We use water for drinking, sanitation, food preparation and for agricultural and industrial purposes. The aquatic environment also provides a valuable amenity for recreation, leisure and tourism.

Water is a finite natural resource. It should be used efficiently, with a minimum of waste. We can only do this through effective planning for the future. In order to do this we need to look at every part of the water cycle; from rainfall through to drainage and the supply and treatment of drinking water.

Government has now begun work on a long term water strategy to achieve this aim. Our vision is to improve and protect our natural water environment and create a more sustainable and secure means of delivering wholesome water. However we cannot do this alone and wider public input is required. With this in mind the following six high-level aims are being developed by government to cover the key water needs within a catchment. These six high-level aims will form chapters of the long term water strategy.

  • deliver safe, secure, sustainable supplies of drinking water to households, industry and agriculture
  • manage flood risk to facilitate social, economic & environmental development
  • protect and improve the quality of the aquatic environment
  • provide sustainable reliable water and sewerage services that meet customer needs
  • sustainable secure governance and funding arrangements for the water sector
  • manage our inland and coastal waters to support tourism, recreation and biodiversity

While the strategy is being led by the Department for Regional Development, the document itself will be informed by all water stakeholders. The key stakeholders responsible for preparing the initial draft water strategy are Northern Ireland Water, Rivers Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Department for Regional Development. Once proposals for the draft long term water strategy have been drawn up we will engage with wider stakeholders.

Draft Long Term Water Strategy for Northern Ireland (2014-2039)

The Depeartment for Regional Development has launched a public consultation on a Draft Long Term Water and Strategy for Northern Ireland (2014-2039)

The document presents a clear framework for action which will facilitate a range of initiatives aimed at delivering "a sustainable water sector in Northern Ireland".

The Draft Strategy has 4 key strategic aims;

  • to provide high quality sustainable supplies of drinking water to households, industry and agriculture;
  • to manage flood risk and drainage in a sustainable manner,
  • to achieve the environmental requirements of the Water Framework Directive in a sustainable manner; and
  • to provide sustainable water and sewerage services that meet customers' needs

The document seeks the views of the public on the proposed actions and way forward. These will help to inform the development of the final Strategy.

Copies of the draft Long Term Water Strategy are available in electronic form at

Long Term Water Strategy Consultation Documents

Hard Copies of the consultation document may be obtained by contacting:

Eddie Dobbin
Water Policy Division
Department for Regional Development
Room 1-22
Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street

Tel 028 90542985

This document is available in a range of formats.  Please contact us with your requirements.

Responses to the consultation document should be posted to the above address or e-mailed to Comments may also be faxed to 028 90540547

Responses are required by Friday 10 October 2014

How you can get involved:

If you are interested in contributing to the long term water strategy you can contact the Water Strategy Team

telephone: 02890 542985

The Department for Regional Development has launched a public consultation on Draft Social & Environmental Guidance for the water and sewerage industry (2015-21).  

The Guidance sets out the key social and environmental policies that the Regional Development Minister expects the Utility Regulator for Northern Ireland to contribute to in its regulation of water and sewerage services.  These policies will help determine Northern Ireland Water’s investment priorities for the 2015 - 2021 period.

Copies of the draft Guidance are available in electronic form at