Learning from Group Water Schemes is produced and maintained by the WISDOM project based in the Geography Department at Trinity College Dublin. The WISDOM project is an 18–month study funded by Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency on the history and development of community-managed water infrastructures in Ireland known as Group Water Schemes (GWSs).
GWSs deliver water supplies to many parts of rural Ireland and account for ~7% of the water sector. GWSs developed in the 1960s and 1970s, responding to the lack of public water supply in rural areas. In the last 20 years, however, GWSs have undergone considerable change within the Irish water sector. The sector has collectively faced new regulatory requirements, challenges from contamination and leakage, infrastructural disrepair, and the restructuring of the public water sector into a semi-state utility. These changes have coincided with significant urban development, an expanding agricultural sector, the economic recession, demographic changes, and new and more frequent extreme weather events across Ireland.
The WISDOM project, led by Dr. Patrick Bresnihan, examines the role of GWSs in the Irish water sector to understand how they have endured these pressures and how the work they undertake helps us to re-conceive the complex relationships between water, infrastructures, and people.