Public Drinking Water Fountain Scheme Launched

Public Drinking Water Fountain Scheme Launched

Aims to reduce plastic bottle use and provide public access to drinking water

Press Release, June 6th 2024

Waterford T.D. Marc Ó Cathasaigh welcomed the launch of the nationwide public drinking water fountain scheme which aims to reduce plastic bottle use, litter and provide widespread and easy access to drinking water.  The scheme was launched this week by the Minister of State with special responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD, and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD.

€2 million in funding from the Circular Economy Fund will be made available for the rollout of public water infrastructure through Uisce Éireann, Local Authorities and the National Federation of Group Water Schemes. Initially the scheme will focus on the installation of drinking fountains within public buildings, with future phases of the scheme to include the installation of drinking fountains in public outdoor spaces.

Marc Ó Cathasaigh said

“The provision of free, clean drinking water in public spaces will just add to the appeal of our towns and villages. It will help reduce plastic litter and encourage the use of keep cups and water bottles – this is a very welcome investment that will help reduce waste. Water refill stations will be a useful addition to our public spaces for locals and visitors alike, particularly those involved in active tourism.”

The scheme, which will see the installation of over 350 water fountains all across the country, will be rolled out in phases over the next few years. Phase 1, which will commence later in 2024, will focus on the provision of drinking water fountains within public buildings, such as county buildings or libraries where there is an existing mains water supply. Phase 2, to commence in 2025, will see the scheme extended to public outdoor spaces such as community centres, swimming pools, parks, greenways and beaches.

Minister Smyth said:

“Drinking water fountains are a fundamental asset for local communities. Access to public drinking water can change how water is consumed when people are out and about to prevent waste and support a circular economy.

“Almost 5 million drinks are consumed in single-use containers each day in Ireland, a large volume of which are plastic water bottles. Plastic bottles often end up littering our streets, rivers, beaches and seas. This can easily be avoided, if we start refilling our reusable water bottles instead of buying single use ones.”