The National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) has secured funding from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) towards its Integrated Source Protection Plan (ISPP) roll-out on community-owned group water schemes (GWSs) across the country.
An additional €199,000 has been approved by Minister Darragh O'Brien TD, under Measure 1 of the current Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme, towards completion of ISPPs on 14 GWSs in the current year, building on learnings from the ongoing NFGWS Source Protection Pilot Project in Roscommon, Westmeath and Monaghan.
The DHLGH has also approved increased support funding to the NFGWS towards the continued inclusion of climate action and biodiversity enhancement strategies across the sector, particularly as part of the ISPP process. In total, these developments will result in an additional €600,000 being invested by the DHLGH in the development and rollout of ISPPs over a three-year period.
This is in addition to funding already provided to the GWS sector by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) towards the implementation of measures to mitigate against agricultural pressures identified in ISSPs.
ISPPs are scientifically-based, scheme-specific plans that detail targeted actions by a range of stakeholders (and especially communities) that can reverse or avert pollution in a drinking water source catchment/zone of contribution.
Welcoming the financial investment by both departments, NFGWS Chairperson, Vincent Farrelly, described it as a ‘ground-breaking, inter-departmental approach to environmental objectives that represents a huge vote of confidence in the NFGWS drinking water source protection strategy’.
The 14 participating group water schemes are comprised of a mixture of groundwater and surface water sources with varying catchment sizes. Many are also located within, or close to, current Priority Areas for Action (PAAs), as defined within Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan (RBMP).
Informed by the NFGWS document A Framework for Drinking Water Source Protection, each GWS has been assigned a preliminarily ‘Protect’ or ‘Improve’ classification, based on the current quality of its source. The ISSPs will be developed by expert consultants in partnership with the various group water schemes, whose respect within their communities and knowledge of the local landscape is integral to the project’s success.
The development of these plans is a critical step in identifying targeted source protection actions and it will assist in identifying a potential model for such work on other community-run drinking water supplies. Not only will they provide a framework for communities to work together to help protect or improve their local drinking water source but the actions that arise from ISPPs also have the potential to benefit biodiversity and the aquatic environment as a whole.
For more information on source protection, visit the dedicated section of our website here.