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 - 2022.
The NFGWS is happy to see that, once again, the overwhelming majority of households served by community-owned and community-run group water schemes were found to be fully compliant with drinking water quality standards. It was also pleasing that there has been a reduction in the number of non-compliances but the NFGWS agrees that more needs to be done to ensure universal compliance with crucial parameters.
That is why it is essential that all stakeholders work together, under the auspices of the upcoming Multi-annual Rural Water Programme, to address any infrastructural requirements for individual GWSs. It’s also crucial that the outcomes from the recent review of rural water sector are swiftly acted upon.
The new drinking water regulations place a strong emphasis on water safety planning and risk assessment/management at every step of the drinking water supply chain. Robust infrastructural and operational systems must be in place on every group water scheme to ensure the continued supply of safe, reliable drinking water.
The sector is well-prepared in this regard, through the implementation of the NFGWS quality assurance system, continual training, and the ever-growing efforts in the realm of drinking water source protection. 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. This strategy is of increasing importance, in light of the new regulations.
During the past 12 months, the NFGWS has completed two key drinking water source protection projects, with the help of funding from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage; and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. These projects reflect the collaborative ethos of the sector and its strong community foundations. Group water schemes have been working with local members, community groups and other like-minded organisations to put measures in place to improve water quality, biodiversity and the wider environment.