Gowlan GWS rainwater harvesting project shows what’s possible

Attendees at September’s demonstration day, held on the two farms participating in Gowlan GWS’s pilot rainwater harvesting project. Funded by Catchment Care, the project has resulted in significant water conservation.

Gowlan GWS in County Cavan has been showing us what’s possible with the success of its exciting pilot rainwater harvesting project.

Nestled in the beautiful upland countryside of west Cavan, Gowlan GWS supplies water to over 400 households in the locality, including the Irish Water supply for the town of Blacklion. For the most part, the GWS relies on its Cuilcagh-Anierin uplands spring source, which is supplemented by nearby Lough Garvagh in summertime.

To help alleviate demand pressures on the scheme, the GWS secured funding from the Catchment Care Community Incentive Scheme (CIS) to install three pilot demonstration rainwater harvesting systems on two local farms.

This Pilot Rainwater Harvesting Project featured the installation of a 10,000 litre rainwater harvesting system on one farm, along with a 5,000 litre system on a duck processing facility and a 9,000 litre sub-terranean concrete system to provide water for the header tank in low-lying duck sheds.

Given the project’s nature, it was also important to discuss learnings from the initiative and educate other stakeholders on its viability. On the 29th September, the GWS hosted a demonstration day to share the project’s findings.


All three systems have been shown to operate effectively and can be adapted to function well in a variety of agricultural, domestic and business situations. The filter incorporated into the systems, with an independent outlet, ensures that the collected rainwater is clear of leaf litter and other contaminants.

Where necessary a pressure vessel is incorporated into the system to protect the pump from frequent switching which could lead to wear.

On the duck farm system, an overflow pipe connects the two tanks so that excess water can be diverted to the top tank when needed.

Despite the summer drought, the system did not run out of water. An override function, which sees the mains water supply kick in if there is insufficient rainwater at the cattle shed, also gives the farmer peace of mind.

Participating farmers have experienced significant reductions in their GWS consumption, thus reducing their annual water bills. For Gowlan GWS, a drop in water demand has helped to alleviate pressure on its sources and reduce energy consumption.

It is hoped that this pilot scheme will inspire others to install similar systems within the Gowlan GWS catchment and further afield. At the open day, the demonstration farms welcomed visitors to encourage rainwater harvesting as a sustainable solution to agricultural water needs.

Source protection

This project is the latest example of how Gowlan GWS works to supply drinking water in an environmentally sustainable fashion. With the help of LEADER funding, the GWS recently installed source protection measures around Lough Garvagh, which included fencing to restrict livestock access to the lake.

Located near the Cavan Burren Park and Shannon Pot, the lake is a popular angling destination and tourist point. Thanks to signage erected as part of the project, every visitor is now informed of the efforts made to maintain the lake’s natural serenity.

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.