NFGWS nominated for the European Award for Co-operative Innovation

The National Federation of Group Water Schemes is delighted to be nominated for the European Award for Co-operative Innovation, under the category ‘Environmental Value Creation,’ thanks to the ongoing drinking water source protection pilot projects across Counties Roscommon, Westmeath and Monaghan.

Organised by COGECA (the General Confederation of Agricultural Co-operatives), the awards recognise sustainability-driven innovation in the agri-food, fishery and forestry sectors.

The drinking water source protection pilot project has the ethos of the co-operative movement at its heart, as it is grounded in the belief that everyone in the local community has a role to play in activities that are for the betterment of their locality.

On that note, the award nomination serves as recognition for all those who have been involved in the project to date. The efforts of the boards and members of group water schemes, county councils, farmers and householders has been integral to improving water quality through actions that are biodiversity friendly and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The project itself links the protection of water, biodiversity and climate action with the health and well-being of communities across rural Ireland. Some of the standout results to date include:

  • The mapping of GWS drinking water source catchments.
  • Publication of ‘A Framework for Drinking Water Source Protection’ and ‘A Handbook of Source Protection and Mitigation Actions for Farming’.
  • Tackling the issue of pesticide contamination of our rivers, lakes and spring sources.
  • The award-winning ‘Let It Bee’ initiative in Co. Roscommon.
  • Education and information/awareness initiatives that have captured the imagination of schoolchildren and the wider public.
  • Distribution of native tree saplings to 8,000 primary school children in Co. Roscommon.
  • Development and publication of relevant training materials and handbooks for group water scheme managers, educators, consulting engineers and scientists to help them implement source protection measures and the ‘All-Ireland Pollinator Plan’.

Further details on these and other aspects of the project can be found across our website.

Reacting to the nomination, Barry Deane, CEO of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, said:

We are thrilled to be nominated for the European Award for Co-operative Innovation. The success of the project is down to the hard work of local communities and it is a true embodiment of the co-operative ethos. Our heartfelt thanks also goes to the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) for their endorsement and continued guidance.

An esteemed jury will be assessing nominations from all across the EU before announcing a shortlist in late February. More information about the awards is available on their website here.