Community Water Development Fund grants have been issued by the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO). Totalling some €510,000 in grants, the latest call has seen 182 successful applications for funding in 2022. First introduced in 2018, the fund supports communities and groups to deliver projects that enhance the quality of local streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. The Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage provide the funding which is administered by LAWPRO. There is growing interest in the fund, which is clear by the numbers of applications received year on year.
Commenting on the announcement the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD said, “I welcome the announcement of the Community Water Development Fund grants which will support local communities and groups to deliver projects that enhance the quality of local streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. I am pleased that my Department funds this scheme, which is a great example of community engagement and public participation. The Community Water Development Fund will continue to be a key measure in the new revised and strengthened River Basin Management Plan, which I plan to launch later this year alongside my colleague Minister Malcolm Noonan. The Plan aims to protect Ireland’s water quality, and to ensure we have a well-protected environment and vibrant communities for future generations.”
As in previous years, applications for funding exceeded the budget allocated which has increased from €380,000 to €500,000 in 2022. A total of 202 applications were received, planning to deliver projects costing €1.77m and seeking grant aid over twice the amount available to offer. The standard of applications was very high this year, making the assessment process difficult. While ensuring a fair distribution of the fund, not all applicants will receive a grant and not all applicants will be granted the amount sought.
Types of projects approved for funding include:
River and habitat enhancement works such as planting of native species and hedgerow, pollinator friendly planting, river-bank stabilisation, fencing and riparian buffer zones.
Match funding for large LEADER funded projects with a biodiversity/water quality element.
Preparation of local plans such as feasibility studies, habitat management plans, ecological surveys, and biodiversity action plans.
Awareness raising initiatives such as river clean ups, biodiversity information boards, citizen science workshops, outdoor classrooms, rainwater harvesting, and enhancement of wetlands.
This year, an additional €10,000 was awarded as part of the Blue Dot Programme. The Blue Dot Award for 2022 was shared between two groups; IRD Duhallow in County Cork and CELT (Centre for Environmental Living & Training) in County Galway. Blue Dots are catchments which are mostly unpolluted and are our best quality waters.
Minister of State Malcolm Noonan TD added, “I want to congratulate IRD Duhallow and CELT as they share the 2022 Blue Dot Award and commend all the successful applicants who will receive funding. I welcome the collaborative approach led by my Department, the Local Authority Waters Programme, working across all 31 local authorities with relevant State agencies, stakeholder and local communities with the shared goal of meeting the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive to have all natural waters at a good stand by 2027.”