Abstraction and impoundment licensing requirements
Our surface water, coastal water and groundwater systems are valuable assets. The introduction of Abstraction and Impoundment Regulations and the creation of a Licensing Team supports the management of our water ecosystems.
It is in everyone's interest to conserve, protect and where possible improve the quality of water in Northern Ireland.
You can view the European Commission Water Framework Directive.(2000/60EC)(.PDF 867Kb) and also the
Habitats Directive (Links to EUR-Lex website) which are key to the decision to establish an Abstraction and Impoundment Licensing (AIL) team to support the protection of our water environment; a resource.
Water in rivers, lakes and wetlands are key features of our landscape, which also support diverse and internationally important habitats of plant and animal life.
In order to protect plants, animals and to manage the use of this resource, the licensing of abstractions and impoundments is necessary. This work is managed by the AIL team.
In implementing the legislation the AIL Team must consider the needs of industry and agriculture and must seek to achieve sustainability.
The effects of abstracting (taking water from a water souce) will vary depending on:
- volume being abstracted
- sensitivity of the ecosystem
- volumes returned
- distances between abstraction and discharge points.
From an environmental perspective over-abstraction of a water body may lead to:
- reduced water flow
- reduction of water resources
- stress or mortality of fish and/or invertebrates
- increased risk of pollution through reduced dilution
- damage to our landscapes.
The effect of an impoundment (A pool of water formed by a dam or pit, to supply water for livestock or wildlife, and to control gully erosion) on a water body will vary depending on:
- operation and control
- the sensitivity of the location.
A poorly designed or managed impoundment can:
- impede the movement of migratory fish
- be unsafe if accessible by the public
- cause build up of sediment leading to changes to the river bed habitat
- lead to changes in the natural morphology of the river.
The Water Framework Directive places controls over water abstractions and impoundments to make sure the directive’s objectives for water bodies are met.
The European Court of Justice has also ruled that in order to implement the Habitats Directive, abstraction projects should be assessed where abstractions, or impoundments, affect protected sites.
The Department of Environment (DOE) agreed to have an abstraction and impoundment control system in place by the end of 2006.
This involved the introduction of regulations that control the abstraction and impoundment of water and protect the water environment from damage.
Using these new regulations our Abstraction and Impoundment Licensing team will monitor and control water bodies in Northern Ireland.
You can view the Abstraction impoundment NI Regs No 482(.PDF 86Kb) on the DOE Northern Ireland website. Alternatively, there will be extracts taken from it on our website.
Water Resources (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005
Agricultural water management projects, such as spray irrigation, which involve the impoundment, abstraction and/or diversion of water from surface, or underground sources of volumes greater than 200 cubic metres per day, may be required to submit an environmental statement to the DOE under the Water Resources (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005.
Otherwise, you can contact the Abstraction and Impoundment Licensing Team on AIL@doeni.gov.uk