National Federation of Group Water Schemes

Work of the Federation

Achieving water quality: The achievement of the water quality standard constitutes the paramount short to medium-term objective for the NFGWS. Of necessity, the most efficient and cost-effective means of realising this objective is being pursued and the Federation’s efforts are directed towards encouraging and enabling group water schemes to move resolutely in this direction. For more, see Quality Drinking Water.

Maintaining water quality: Having achieved quality drinking water, the Federation assists schemes in implementing their specially-designed Quality Assurance Scheme. Implementation of this scheme provides a guarantee that treated water is delivered safely to consumers’ taps. For more, see Quality Assurance Scheme.

Towards viability: The NFGWS is fully aware of the financial and other pressures being put on group schemes in recent years, not least in terms of the cost of delivering a quality drinking water supply. This has prompted the NFGWS to pursue a rationalisation strategy within the sector, actively encouraging and assisting schemes in amalgamating with their neighbours. For more see GWS rationalisation.

Meeting the challenge of change: In order to prepare schemes to meet the very real challenges posed by ever more stringent regulatory and consumer demands, training courses are provided – in conjunction with the Water Sevices National Training Group and with FÁS – to address both the managerial and operational demands on group scheme boards of directors. In terms of the former, a structured management education programme designed and provided by the Federation is available to federated group schemes. This 8-module course is delivered to schemes in their own locality. The Federation also provides training in the Performance Management System , the operational framework for the 20-year Service Phase of a DBO contract. In terms of wider operational Operational training, this is currently focused on reducing unaccounted for water on networks. For more, see Training .

Managing for the future: The Federation is actively involved in testing and promoting initiatives that will help groups to lower operating costs, while protecting the environment.

Source Protection: As part of its work in this area, the Federation is a key player in a National Source Protection Pilot Project being conducted at Churchill & Oram GWS, County Monaghan. The NFGWS envisages a role for the group water sector in framing policy/legislation with regard to source protection in and ensuring compliance with such policy/legislation once agreed/enacted. For more, see Source Protection.

Water Conservation: Given the costs of treating water, the Federation is anxious to provide every assistance to schemes to reduce wastage on their networks.  There are, at present, two elements to this:

Metering: The NFGWS has successfully negotiated generous supports for schemes in tackling wastage of water. These supports apply to both bulk and universal metering. Currently, universal metering is being installed or is already in place on all schemes participating in DBO projects. This accounts for most households on privately-sourced group water schemes.

Rainwater harvesting: A rainwater collection pilot project currently underway is also supported by the NFGWS. See Water Conservation and the update on this project at the Rural Water Services Conference 2007.

Developing partnership: The Federation is fully committed to fostering and further developing the partnership with the DoEHLG, the local authorities and other rural organisations that has been the lynchpin of developments within the rural water sector in recent years. To this end, we aim to continue our input into national structures, including the NRWMC and WSNTG, while working to strengthen the role of local partnership structures, including county based monitoring committees, liaison monitoring committees etc. Having played a key role in discussions leading to the formulation of the water services legislation, the Federation is now being consulted in relation to the detailed implementation of its provisions on licensing.

Awareness: Quarterly issues of our newsletter Rural Water News as well as regular correspondence keep members up-to-date on what is happening within the sector, while a copy of the Federation’s annual report is circulated to all affiliated schemes. NFGWS development workers maintain ongoing contacts with individual schemes within their areas and are available to provide advice on an ongoing basis. GWS activists are appraised of wider sectoral developments and can participate in the process of policy formulation through the annual rural water services conference and the Federation’s Annual Delegate Conference.

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