The National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) – working to make their pumphouses pollinator-friendly
The National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) is the representative organisation for community-owned rural water services in Ireland. They’ve worked with partners to develop pollinator-friendly planting guidelines for their pumphouses all around Ireland.
The NFGWS, in partnership with the National Biodiversity Centre of Ireland, Tipperary County Council and Ashill Group Water Scheme (GWS) are spearheading a new project entitled Pollinator-friendly management of Group Water Scheme sites, which is linked to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020.
Group Water Schemes, by their nature, are at the centre of rural communities, where these pollinators have the greatest impact. The spread of group schemes across the country means that there could be a pollinator haven in every parish! Group water schemes provide a vital service to rural communities, and with this project, they could also provide a vital service to help save these vital creatures.
Encouraging these pollinators to inhabit the site is very easy and relies on management of the site rather than spending money on landscaping. Plants such as lavender can attract these creatures which are inexpensive – with funding being available under the operational subsidy and from the heritage section of your local authority. This management, besides having a beneficial impact on agriculture and tourism, also has great implications for source protection, flood management and the aesthetics of the GWS site.
John Fogarty, Ashill Group Water scheme has been spearheading this work over the last number of years, cumulating in the creation of a ‘Pollinator Haven’ around the Ashill GWS source and treatment house. Dr Una Fitzpatrick, National Biodiversity Centre of Ireland, has been working closely with the Ashill GWS on this project. John and Una recently appeared on Ear to the Ground to discuss how pollinators were in decline and measures available to slow this decline. John, along with the Ashill GWS committee, recently facilitated an open day of the site, where the Tipperary Rural Water Monitoring Committee were invited to see the work that had taken place.
In the time since the opening of the Ashill GWS pollinator garden, 6 groundwater sourced Group Water Schemes in the Tipperary area have begun to plant their own compounds with pollinator friendly plants. In addition to these groundwater sourced schemes, many surface water schemes can see the benefit of implementing these measures around their own sources and treatment plants and are planning to implement this in the next year.
The committee of one of these schemes have involved their local primary school in the project, focusing the minds of the schoolchildren on the importance of pollinators and the importance of good quality water. The NFGWS have also used the initiative as part of our Quality Assurance system, which focuses on a HACCP: Source to Tap method of protecting the water source, as these plants help protect sources from contamination and ties in with the banned used of herbicide around drinking water sources.