Following the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on Drinking Water Quality in Private Group Schemes and Small Private Supplies 2020, the National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) CEO, Barry Deane, says that efforts to address non-compliances on group water schemes must be progressed as quickly as possible.
Some 95% of community-owned group water schemes were found to have complied with Escherichia coli (E. coli) standards but its presence was detected in 20 supplies, serving around 2,900 people in total. The report also highlighted trihalomethanes (THMs) exceedances on 22 group water schemes.
"While significant progress has been made on many of the group water schemes affected by these exceedances, any remaining issues must be addressed as a matter of urgency. The protection of public health is the number one responsibility of every drinking water supplier.
"The NFGWS has been engaging with these schemes and working closely with relevant statutory authorities to advance applicable solutions, whether that be treatment upgrades, process/management improvements, amalgamation and rationalisation with neighbouring group water schemes or connection to a public supply if necessary."
Mr Deane added:
"It is also important to acknowledge the hard work and effort of those involved in the sector. The vast majority of those supplied by community-owned and community-run group water schemes were in full compliance with drinking water standards.
"Further to this, through drinking water source protection initiatives, group water schemes are making an increasingly significant contribution the wider environment by engaging with local communities to bring about benefits for water quality, biodiversity and climate action."
The NFGWS believes that effective management structures, coupled with the continued availability of capital upgrade funding under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme, will ensure a modern and efficient group water scheme sector into the future