Public drinking water fountain scheme announced

Scheme aims to reduce plastic bottle use and provide public access to drinking water.

A public drinking water fountain scheme was launched today 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.

Public drinking water fountain scheme announced The aim of the scheme is to reduce plastic bottle use and provide widespread public access to drinking water, required by the recast Drinking Water Directive. €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.


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.”

At the launch Minster O’Brien said:

“There are numerous benefits to ensuring wider access to free, high quality drinking water in public spaces. It’s convenient for the users, it reduces plastic bottle litter and it adds to the offering of the particular location. I’m delighted to see the public drinking water fountain scheme launched today which builds on my Department’s pilot project undertaken by Uisce Éireann and the National Federation of Group Water Scheme. Today’s announcement will also help to deliver on our Programme for Government commitments, improve access to water which is a key requirement of the recast Drinking Water Directive and promote sustainability by encouraging the use of reusable water bottles, reducing the need for single-use plastic bottles.”

• According to, 220,000 single use plastic water bottles are consumed in Ireland each day and Irish people spend over €100 million on single-use plastic water bottles each year. 2 out of 3 bottles are not recycled.

• This is a completely avoidable waste and we want to encourage people to prevent it occurring by encouraging people to use our public water infrastructure to refill reusable bottles when they are on-the-go.

• The aim of the scheme is to improve our public drinking water infrastructure in order to reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles and provide free and easy access to public drinking water.

• €2 million in funding is being made available, through Uisce Éireann and the local government sector, to deliver a national scheme which will provide public drinking water fountains.

• The launch of this scheme follows a number of recent measures which have been undertaken in response to Programme for Government commitments such as:


o The launch of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for single-use beverage containers. As well as maximising the number of plastic bottles and cans which will be recycled, DRS will significantly reduce the number of single use bottles being littered or going to landfill and incineration.

o The Local Authority Prevention Network (LAPN) has developed a guide for local government and communities which supports access to free water refill points. LAPN has also provided funding to Local Authorities for the installation of public drinking water fonts.

o Uisce Éireann and the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage undertook a number of pilot projects for the installation of drinking water refill stations in local communities and group water schemes.

Funding is being provided through the Circular Economy Fund, managed by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, which consists of revenues from the landfill, plastic bag and waste recovery levies.

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