Golden anniversary for vital Laois water scheme

Pat Somers

Reporter:

Pat Somers

Golden anniversary for vital Laois water scheme

Committee members with founding member Liam Hyland at the Ballacolla Group Water Scheme 50th anniversary celebrations at Granstown, Ballacolla/

A half-century of Ballacolla Group Water Scheme was celebrated last Saturday with the unveiling of a plaque at Granstown.

On hand for the occasion was founder member and former Minister and TD, Liam Hyland who, 50 years ago, was instrumental in setting up the scheme.

The scheme originated from the setting up of a local Muintir na Tire branch by Liam Hyland. A survey of the community showed a clear need for a sustainable water supply and the Ballacolla Group Water Scheme was established.

Liam Hyland was appointed Chairman, Des Roe and Tommy Bergin were appointed to the committee and as trustees.

The community response proved overwhelming. A sustainable source and location for a reservoir was located at Dairyhill and a site was made available by Michael Kenny. Construction began and funding got underway which included £20 from each private house and €40 from each farmer.

The construction phase overcame many difficulties, not least of which was the discovery of large areas of rock in the area.

In 2000 the GWS changed its structure to a co-operative society. A major upgrade was carried out in the 2000s and included the location of a new source at Granstown and a treatment plant. In 2009 meters were installed on all connections.

Funding was pursued under the Rural Water Programme and costs associated with the treatment plant were subject to a maximum €6,475 per household.

To date, they have invested €4.9 million and received funding of €3.6 million.

Progress on the scheme was facilitated by the Gorman family and the Bergin family of Granstown where the reservoir and water source are now located.

The committee appointed Martin Bergin as caretaker and Elaine Hyland as manager in 2007.

Today, the scheme provides water to 550 houses, 185 farms, 3 primary schools and 4 halls.

The current committee consists of Clifford Roe, Chairman, Liam Bergin, Secretary, Phyllis Foot, John Walsh, Pat Brennan, Noel Shiel, Michael Broderick and Paul Hyland.