Although it has only existed as a single entity for less than five years, West Limerick GWS is already emerging as a leading example of what can be achieved through efforts to reduce water demand.
Its success to date was recognised in the inaugural 2021 Group Water Scheme Excellence Awards when it was crowned the overall category winner for Water Demand Management & Climate Action.
The group water scheme was formed in 2017, through the amalgamation of the Cappagh, Croagh and Killeedy group water schemes, with Grannagh GWS also joining in 2020. Serving over 700 members, the scheme inherited an ageing network, with a high level of unaccounted for water (UFW).
Water demand reduction
In an effort to reduce this demand, the scheme initially set about mapping the network and establishing district metered areas (DMAs), complete with loggers and flow meters. The data this provided enabled the scheme to take a two-pronged approach to addressing the issue.
A pressure management project included the installation of boundary valves and a number of pressure-reducing valves (PRVs) in high pressure areas, while a collar replacement project greatly improved the scheme’s network infrastructure.
The GWS also works closely with its high-demand members to regularly monitor individual usage, and provide advice and assistance should any unusual spikes in demand be identified. Consumer connections are also checked for leaks when completing meter readings.
The reduction in UFW has been significant and brought about a number of benefits. Concerns about water availability during prolonged dry periods has eased, while operation costs have greatly reduced. West Limerick GWS chairperson, Tony Prendiville, explained:
Our demand has dropped by almost 40% overall and it is great to have this back-up during weather events. Energy usage has dropped by almost 40%. Chemical usage has reduced, as has the overall wear and tear on the mechanical plant.
As explained in the NFGWS Framework for Climate Action on Group Water Schemes, a reduction in daily water demand is likely to be the single greatest climate action that any scheme can take. This is exemplified by the levels of energy reduction and water conservation that West Limerick Group Water Scheme has achieved.
The scheme has also been able to begin work on a network extension to include a number of new connections. This project would simply not have been possible had water demand levels remained as high as they had been in previous years.
Of course, this is still just the beginning. The GWS hopes to reduce its UFW further over the coming period. Reflecting on the award win, Mr Prendiville said:
For a relatively new scheme, it gives us a great confidence boost going forward. A huge effort went into water demand management since the foundation of the scheme. We will continue to reduce demand where possible. A new logging system has been installed and a complete leak survey, in conjunction with the reading of meters, took place in January.
When accepting the award at the GWS Excellence Awards online ceremony in February, West Limerick GWS secretary, Tom Noonan, reserved special mention for the scheme’s manager, Eddie Sheehan: ‘We have cut down our demand by 30-50% in some areas and it’s all down to our manager, Eddie Sheehan, who has done fantastic work. We cannot thank him enough.'
The application window for the 2022 GWS Excellence Awards closes on 24th June. For more information, and to download an application form, click here.
This article originally featured in the most recent edition of the Rural Water News magazine. To read the full edition and to sign up to our magazine mailing list, click here.