Following on from the successful completion of source catchment/zone of contribution (ZOC) delineation across virtually all privately sourced GWS since 2012, the second phase focuses on the development and implementation of integrated source protection plans for the group water schemes that have completed delineation.
The NFGWS proposed to the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government that a pilot project be established to see how this might be implemented across the sector. Given that group water schemes do not have regulatory powers to prevent contamination of drinking water sources, collaboration with other stakeholders has been essential to the success of the pilot.
In June 2018 the NFGWS invited statutory and voluntary organisations to participate in national and local steering groups to provide oversight of the pilot project.
The source protection strategy phase 11 steering group which held its inaugural meeting on 18th July 2018 - page 8 RWN Autumn RWN magazine.
The National steering committee decided to divide the project into groundwater and surface water elements, each with its own stakeholder oversight group. Tobin consulting engineers, with assistance from the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), developed source protection plans for the groundwater schemes while Stranooden GWS appointed Patrick McCabe, a catchment scientist to develop its plan with assistance from the Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT).
9 GWSs (see below) were identified across three counties that were representative of the scale and size of groundwater-sourced group water schemes. These include technically challenging karstified (fractured limestone) landscapes with a high risk of pollution through sinking streams, dolines etc.
In addition, a surface water-sourced group water scheme in County Monaghan (see below) was selected due to the size and complexity of its catchment, which includes an urban pressure source.
Interim reports were completed on the projects in January 2019 and later that year the DHPLG provided funding towards the project under the newly established Source Protection Measure 1 of the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme (MARWP) 2019 -2020.
Framework for Drinking Water Source Protection
To develop source protection planning across the sector in a consistent, targeted and structured way, the development of a suitable framework was required. Excellent work had already been completed by the EPA catchments unit in advance of the second cycle of the RBMP. To avoid duplication, the National steering group sought to ensure that consultation with others involved in similar work would inform future source protection projects. So, utilising the expertise and input from those around the table, a framework for drinking water source protection was developed and published in September 2019.