The National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) welcomes today’s publication by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its Drinking Water Quality Report for Private Supplies in 2019.
We are pleased at the report’s finding that the overwhelming majority of households served by community-owned and community-run group water schemes were found to be fully compliant with EU and national water quality standards. This reflects the significant effort made by the sector over the past 20 years to improve infrastructure and management arrangements, with particular emphasis on maintaining water quality.
However, we share the EPA’s concern that microbiological risks to public health (and especially the risk posed by the critical E.coli and enterococci parameters) are still not being adequately addressed in a small number of supplies.
The NFGWS is fully committed to working with the relevant statutory authorities and with non-compliant schemes to resolve whatever issues need to be addressed. While the resources for necessary capital upgrades on treatment plants are available under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme, we are aware that such capital equipment is only as good as its management.
In the context of the recast Drinking Water Directive and the requirement on regulated supplies to demonstrate a Water Safety Planning approach from source catchment to consumer, we are convinced that putting effective management in place is crucial. As a core policy objective the NFGWS is, therefore, actively pursuing rationalisation and amalgamation of smaller schemes so that they have sufficient scale to fund the employment of personnel who will oversee both day-to-day management of the supply and its strategic development.