NFGWS supports EPA recommendations highlighted in drinking water quality report

Press release - Issued 25 November 2022

As the representative body for the community-owned and community-operated group water scheme (GWS) sector, the National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) welcomes today’s publication by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its report on Drinking Water Quality in Private Group Schemes and Small Private Supplies - 2021.

The NFGWS supports the EPA’s call to immediately address issues of exceedances on a small number of group water schemes. Thankfully, many of the GWS supplies that recorded microbiological or trihalomethane (THM) exceedances in 2021 have progressed plans to bring about solutions. Any non-compliance is unacceptable and reflects poorly on an otherwise thriving sector. Particularly, instances of repeated non-compliance over a number of years must be resolved as quickly as possible to avoid continued risk to the health of individual group water scheme members.

Robust infrastructure and operational processes are needed to ensure a safe and reliable drinking water supply. This relies on a continued commitment from all stakeholders, including impacted group water schemes and relevant statutory authorities.

The NFGWS promotes a strategy of amalgamation and rationalisation in order to ensure the sustainability of community-owned group water schemes, built on effective governance structures and professional expertise. There has been significant delays in completing some complex projects funded under the current cycle of the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme (MARWP). This has been frustrating for all involved but the NFGWS is committed to assisting wherever possible in ensuring the delivery of this essential funding programme.

The EPA’s report provides assurance that the vast majority of group water schemes were once again in full compliance with drinking water standards. Many group water schemes have also been working with their members to implement ground-breaking drinking water source protection initiatives as part of a holistic approach to quality assurance.

The source protection measures introduced also have co-benefits for biodiversity enhancement and climate action. Through such extensive community engagement, the GWS sector is proving that — along with the provision of potable water — it can play an enhanced role in the future of rural Ireland.

Notes to editor available here.