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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.


It is anticipated that the draft long term water strategy will be published for public consultation in the summer of 2014. We plan to hold a pre-consultation period in advance of this in order to take the views of identified stakeholders.  

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