The National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) greatly welcomes today's announcement by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), Darragh O’Brien TD, of the new Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2024–2026, ahead the imminent opening of the application window.
Group water schemes (GWSs) provide potable drinking water to over 200,000 people across rural Ireland and are working within their local communities to support and strengthen public participation in water management. Through the sector’s source protection efforts, GWSs are helping to improve and protect water quality, enhance biodiversity, and take climate action.
As the representative body for the community-owned and community-operated group water scheme sector in Ireland, the NFGWS works in partnership with the DHLGH and local authorities (LAs) to ensure that the services provided by its GWS members achieve the highest standards. The Multi-annual Rural Water Programme (MARWP) is the essential capital funding avenue that facilitates sustained investment in the GWS sector. The increase in the maximum grant available per house, to €15,000 from €9,000, is also very welcome, given the impact of inflation in recent years.
Reacting to the announcement of the new MARWP framework, NFGWS chief executive officer, Barry Deane said:
We are delighted to see today’s announcement of the new Multi-annual Rural Water Programme Framework, ahead of the opening of the application window. Although there has been frustration within the group water scheme sector at the delays to the launch of the new programme, it highlights the eagerness of the sector to continue to enhance its infrastructure and provide the best service possible to GWS members.
Many group water schemes have already been working with the NFGWS, relevant local authorities, and employer’s representatives to prepare detailed submissions for the new Programme.
Among its range of measures, the Programme offers group water schemes opportunities to improve treatment systems, upgrade distribution networks and ensure that community-owned sector is sustainable. Through amalgamation and rationalisation funding, provided through the Programme, GWSs are enabled to create robust governance structures that will last long into the future.
The Programme’s source protection measure facilitates important work within GWS source catchments to improve untreated water quality. The source protection projects completed by GWSs in recent years have highlighted how such efforts can help achieve even more widespread environmental outcomes.
The NFGWS will shortly be holding workshops with group water schemes to provide guidance in preparing applications for the upcoming Programme.
The Framework for the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2024-2026 is available here.
An NFGWS Framework summary document is available here: MARWP 2024-2026 - NFGWS Summary Document for GWSs