]The National Federation of Group Water Scheme who are the…
National Federation of Group Water Schemes – Biodiversity Framework
Group Water Schemes are community owned rural groups supplying drinking water to their local members. Adrian Smyth tells us how the National Federation of Group Water Schemes have developed a biodiversity framework for their sites. These sites are spread out around the country and could be havens for wildlife like bees and insects all across Ireland.
A wholesome and safe water supply is best assured where it is abstracted from a healthy environment. Aside from the intrinsic value of a healthy environment, there is a direct correlation between the environmental health of a source catchment and the cost of producing drinking water. Key measures of an environmentally healthy source catchment include the ecosystems and biodiversity that it supports.
Following a pilot project conducted by Ashill Group Water Scheme in 2018, the NFGWS signed up to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, recognising that the implementation of biodiversity enhancement measures on group water schemes could have a positive impact on water quality, ecosystem regeneration and on community engagement with their local group water scheme. As part of this pilot, the National Biodiversity Data Centre, in collaboration with the NFGWS, developed a comprehensive guide to assist with the implementation of biodiversity-friendly measures around group water scheme pumphouses/sites. Launched at the Rural Water Conference in 2019, this guide observes that:
Group water scheme sites are secure sites that are not grazed. If they were managed in a pollinator-friendly way, it would create an entire network of safe places for bees and other insects across the landscape. The positive impact this could have is enormous.
The aim of the newly released NFGWS biodiversity enhancement framework document is to build on the existing resources currently in place for Group Water Schemes and to provide a generic framework for the overall enhancement of biodiversity in and around group water scheme sites. It takes account of and builds on the progress made in the area of water resources management and source protection in recent years, the availability of new information and maps and lessons learned. The objectives are to:
- provide a high-level vision and structure for biodiversity enhancement on Group Water Schemes
- integrate and link biodiversity enhancement to drinking water source protection
- integrate and link biodiversity enhancement to wider community education goals
- environmentally proofing capital projects to ensure their impact in minimised
- link with and expand on the NFGWS Strategy for Source Protection on Group Water Schemes (NFGWS, 2012a) and the NFGWS Quality Assurance (HACCP) system (NFGWS, 2012b)
- provide a focused narrative that will be used in public consultation and collaboration