Group Water Schemes

The Group Water Schemes’ Programme was introduced in 1962 to offer capital support to rural home owners for the construction of water distribution systems to pipe water from local water sources such as lakes or boreholes into their homes and farms. Communities set up voluntary co-operative structures referred to as Group Water Schemes to privately manage these water distribution systems. Current operating costs are funded through contributions from Group Scheme members and Central Government subsidies (Irish Water, 2018).

Approximately 6% of the Irish population receive drinking water from Group Water Schemes (community-run schemes). Of these, about 70% receive their water from private group schemes, which have a privately-sourced water supply such as lakes or boreholes. The remaining schemes get their water from an Irish Water connection. Members of group schemes pay water charges but have some of their water services costs subsidised by the government (DHPLG, 2016).

All group schemes are fitted with a water meter so the local authority can monitor the amount of water used. Each household gets a domestic allowance of 225 cubic metres. Domestic users rarely exceed this amount. If they do, the group scheme is charged as a whole, as the meter monitors water usage of the entire scheme. The meter is checked each quarter and allowances for domestic users are deducted. The balance is charged at a set rate per cubic metre. This rate varies from one local authority to another. As individual households also have a meter installed to monitor water usage, they are charged for water usage in excess of the domestic allowance of 225 cubic metres.

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