A total of €523,000 – through 142 individual grants – has been awarded from the Community Water Development Fund, to support local community efforts to enhance water quality in streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas around the country.
The fund is administered by the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) with funding provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage. The funding follows the 2023 open call that saw 142 successful applications from across the country. First introduced in 2018, this fund supports the delivery of projects and initiatives by local communities and groups that aim to enhance local water bodies to benefit water quality, biodiversity, and communities. The number of applications received by LAWPRO has increased steadily since the grant scheme was first introduced.
Commenting on the announcement the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD said:
“These Community Water Development Fund grants will support local communities and groups to deliver projects that enhance the quality of local streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. The fund is a fantastic support to encourage communities to take positive actions for water quality and biodiversity in their local area and recognises the great local initiatives led by communities to take care of water bodies in their local area.”
The total amount sought in 2023 was twice the grant amount available. This has been an ongoing trend in recent years and is considered a good indication of the growth in the number of community groups developing and leading on projects that enhance the quality of local water bodies,
Commenting on the 2023 applications, Anthony Coleman, Director of LAWPRO said,
“The standard of applications was very high this year and we were delighted to see the scale of ambition and enthusiasm from local activists throughout the country. Congratulations to those great projects who have been awarded a grant and to those who were not successful this time, I would encourage you to maintain contact with your local Community Water Officer, to keep developing new proposals and projects, and to apply when the next round of funding is available.”
Minister of State for Planning and Local Government Kieran O’Donnell TD said:
“I welcome the collaborative approach led by the Department, the Local Authority Waters Programme, and all 31 local authorities with relevant State agencies, other stakeholders 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 standard by 2027. This year we’ve seen Tidy Towns Committees, Community Groups, Scouts and GAA clubs awarded funding through this scheme to make improvements to their local waters and it’s heartening to see such strong representation from throughout all of our local authorities.”
Types of projects approved for funding this year include:
- River and habitat enhancement work, such as planting of native tree species and hedgerows, pollinator friendly planting, river-bank stabilisation, fencing and installation of riparian buffer zones.
- Match funding for large LEADER funded projects with water quality and biodiversity elements.
- 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 €20,000 was awarded as part of the Blue Dot Catchments Programme. The Blue Dot Award for 2023 was shared between two groups; IRD Duhallow in County Cork and Camross Tidy Towns, Co. Laois. Blue Dots are catchments which are mostly unpolluted and contain Ireland’s best quality waters.
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan, TD added,
“I want to congratulate IRD Duhallow and Camross Tidy Towns as they share the Blue Dot Award and commend all the successful applicants who will receive funding, and delivering our our targets under UN Sustainable Development Goal 6- Clean Water and Sanitation. Healthy, clean water is essential not just to communities but to sustain the plants and animals that depend upon sustainably managed water.”