The provision of water services in scattered rural communities is a challenge of great significance for the implementation of European regulations concerning the quality of water intended for human consumption (Directive 98/83/EC) and the protection and management of water (Directive 2000/60/EC).
Currently, in Galicia, 650 000 people consume water through uncontrolled autonomous solutions such as wells and water sanitation systems. Unfortunately, in most cases, these independent solutions do not comply with the required legal environmental, health and water quality standards.
These systems emerged in an ad-hoc fashion as a result of a historic lack of an overall provision of supply by local or regional authorities. Their existence also reflects the fact that the technical and economic feasibility of centralised infrastructure is severely limited by factors such as distance from highly-populated areas and the large investment needed to undertake them.
The LIFE RURAL SUPPLIES project’s main objective is to strengthen the sustainability of water supplies in scattered rural communities that lack clean water. It will demonstrate that it is possible to provide small communities with a quality supply from groundwater through the correct implementation of uptake systems, the introduction of effective sanitation and the adoption of management and control programs.
The project will build supply systems at individual and community levels as well as autonomous sanitation systems. Specifically, it will construct four pilot sustainable water supply facilities: a sustainable private well for a rural house; a community water supply system; a rainwater reclamation facility; and a community water sanitation system.
The project has four main sub-objectives:
- Determine the most appropriate technical solutions in the uptake, distribution and subsequent treatment of groundwater consumed from wells and springs.
- Test autonomous facilities in rural housing to reduce the environmental impact of domestic wastewater;
Validate Water Safety Plans (WSPs), a tool to improve the security of supply recommended by the World Health Organisation.
- Define a feasible model of recovering cost for autonomous water services in rural areas, encouraging the efficient use of water resources.
- The project will publish a guide for implementation of autonomous water supplies in small communities in coherence with environmental and public health requirements. This will include technical instructions, the cost recovery model and definitions of the necessary conditions for the authorisation of new water sources. The beneficiary thus hopes to promote potential transfer of the model to the other 24 000 small towns and villages in Galicia.
Expected results: The project expects to achieve the following results:
- Construction of pilot individual supply, community supply and autonomous sanitation systems.
- Technical instructions for the implementation of a management model of non-centralised water supplies and sanitation systems.
- A feasible model of cost recovery for autonomous rural water services.
- Definition of the necessary conditions for accessing new water sources.
- A guide for the development of control programs to implement the model across Galicia.