GWS Excellence Awards winners in focus: Mid-Roscommon GWS

Mid-Roscommon GWS manager, Noel Carroll, described the group water scheme’s third GWS Excellence Award in two years as a ‘great honour’.

In 2006, when ten Roscommon group water schemes came together to form one entity, the newly formed Mid-Roscommon GWS had an average daily water demand of 2,150m3 across its circa 915 connections.

Much has changed on the GWS in the intervening years, with the number of connections rising to approximately 1,300 today, driven in part by the addition of two more group water schemes to the co-operative in 2018. Yet, despite its growth, daily water demand now peaks at 1,100m3, with lows of 650m3.

This remarkable reduction is just one of the reasons that Mid-Roscommon GWS was crowned a winner of the ‘Water Demand and Climate Action’ category at the 2022 Group Water Excellence Awards. A worthy achievement in its own right, it’s made all the more impressive by the fact that the GWS was an overall winner of two categories in the 2021 edition of the awards.

‘It is a great honour to win an award this year and build on our success in last year’s Excellence Awards,’ reacted Noel Carroll, Mid-Roscommon GWS manager.

I think that future generations are reliant on the actions of the current generation. Therefore, managing our water resources and implementing steps to combat climate change is vital for sustainability.

Water demand management

The GWS’s efforts to address water demand have required much time and dedication, including the installation of an electronic meter reading system, district meters and telemetry loggers, along with daily manual logging. This data-driven approach helped the GWS identify the most troublesome areas of an aging network.

In some cases, pressure reducing valves were installed but most significant has been the scheme’s ongoing network replacement process. In recent years, the GWS has replaced 30km of watermain, with works to replace another 8km expected to be completed soon. Funded under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme, the GWS had identified critical mains replacement areas by following the three stage process promoted by the NFGWS.

For watermain leaks that have proven more tricky to locate, the GWS also took the novel approach of hiring a sniffer dog, who was successful in pinpointing two significant leaks on its distribution network.

The GWS also devotes a significant amount of time to helping members keep on top of their own usage. Individual meters are read four times a year as well as whenever telemetry picks up a spike in demand for a particular area.

Member engagement has been key, with the GWS regularly liaising on a one-to-one basis and keeping an active website, which boasts information on how to detect leaks and read your meter.

Climate action

Through its involvement in the NFGWS source protection pilot project, Mid-Roscommon GWS and its members have implemented significant measures that not only help improve water quality in its spring sources but also have co-benefits for climate action and biodiversity enhancement.

Vegetative buffer zones and wooded areas capture pollutant run-off and sequester carbon, while the GWS championed the ‘I’ve planted a tree and my garden is pesticide free’ initiative, which saw primary school children in Roscommon given a tree to plant at home as well as educational materials on the dangers of pesticides.

The GWS plans to build on its good work to date, as Noel explains:

Our scheme hopes to continue our efforts and replace more of the aging network. Most of the remaining pipework that has not been replaced has been in the ground for 50 years or more.

We also intend on installing solar panels to provide power to the pumps and treatment plants. This will provide a renewable energy source and reduce electricity costs. We will also continue to implement and monitor source protection measures and promote rainwater harvesting among our members.

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.