Group water schemes have recently been installing water refill stations in prominent areas of their locality. Earlier this year, the Department of Housing Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) asked the NFGWS to identify four potential GWSs that would be prepared to install a refill station on their networks, as part of an initiative under the current programme for government and revised Drinking Water Directive to provide greater access to drinking water.
Given that the NFGWS has already been promoting improved access to drinking water and the reduction of single use plastics through the use of such water refill stations in its various climate action initiatives, it thoroughly welcomed this opportunity.
As well as helping to create awareness about the presence of a local GWS within a community, the stations promote the use of safe, quality drinking water and the use of reusable water bottles.
Such initiatives complement the NFGWS’s broader environmental awareness strategy of ‘educating communities through schools’, whereby GWSs sponsor the NFGWS ‘All about Water’ curriculum in its local national school in addition to providing a reusable drinking water bottle to every pupil.
Group water schemes
Four GWSs were initially identified, with many more GWSs showing considerable interest. Kilmaley-Inagh GWS, a large GWS in County Clare, identified a suitable location near the local GAA grounds. The site is also adjacent to a number of community amenities, including a walkway, playground and footpath linking to Kilmaley Primary School.
Similarly, Ballacolla GWS in County Laois and Tubber GWS, County Offaly, decided to locate their refill stations beside the walking tracks around GAA pitches in their locality. The Ballacolla refill station is also adjacent to the community hall, local handball club and national school.
Tubber GWS has decided to dedicate its refill station to one of its founding members, Frank Egan, who passed away recently.
The village of Milltown in County Galway is now adorned with a refill station, courtesy of Milltown Community GWS. Its key location will make water freely available to those availing of the local
playground, the walkway along the River Clare and the local football pitch.
The water refill station has a touchless design, as the advantage of this type of unit is that they are both suitable for refilling bottles and also have space for graphics that can be used to include information about the GWS, the source catchment and other sustainable messaging.
Each GWS employed local contractors to prepare their unit sites. A simple base with a water supply and waste pipe had to be installed. All GWSs installed a water meter and shut off valve for each unit.
Graphics were designed for each unit, which included the GWS name and logos. Their installation was completed by the end of November and participating GWSs are delighted with them.
Many thanks to the four GWS management teams and committees for their co-operation on this project. It was a great success and completed in a very short timeframe, which is appreciated by the NFGWS.
The project builds on the experience of Mid-Roscommon GWS, which installed two refill stations in 2020. Glinsk Creggs GWS, County Galway, and Crosserlough GWS in County Cavan are also currently installing stations as part of their integrated source protection planning project.
It is hoped that, with help of further funding opportunities, more group water schemes around the country will install similar refill stations in their locality throughout 2023.
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.