A beneficial partnership between GWS and ResiRiver

National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) is an umbrella organisation for the Group Water Schemes (GWS) in Ireland, and an associated partner of ResiRiver. We contacted Mark, who works there as an Education, Information and Research officer. He looks after all aspects of their communications, liaises with external researchers and promotes the work of the GWSs through public relations. We asked him to tell us a little more about the goals, approach and the connection with ResiRiver.

Group Water Schemes (GWSs) are community-owned and community-operated drinking water supplies. These GWSs source, treat and distribute drinking water to their scheme members. There are around 380 of these GWSs across rural Ireland, serving almost 200,000 people.

The main goal of the GWSs is to provide safe and reliable drinking water to its members. The element of community ownership and input helps to increase environmental awareness and, hopefully, a greater appreciation of the preciousness of a potable water supply. In addition, most GWSs operate under a co-operative structure. All members of a GWS share equal ownership of their drinking water supply. Alongside robust treatment and operational processes, the sector places a large emphasis on ‘source protection’ as the primary barrier to combatting water pollution prior to abstraction. 

The link with ResiRiver? Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are a key element of drinking water source protection. Community involvement is also paramount. Through pilot projects, GWSs have already amassed experience in implementing NbS in drinking water catchments. The learnings collected from these projects, can help ResiRiver colleagues embarking on their NbS journey. Likewise, ResiRiver is a great opportunity for GWSs to further examine the efficacy of the GWS sector’s source protection approach and to learn from like-minded organisations across northwest Europe.