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Cork and Galway schools top water conservation awards

Green-Schools moved its annual Water Awards ceremony online today, with a virtual ceremony shown on screens in 24 schools around the country. Postponed in May due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony celebrates the winners of the annual Water School of the Year Awards; Water poster competition and Water Ambassador Programme. The Green-Schools Water theme is supported by Uisce Éireann.

Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil in Glanmire, Cork and Dominican College, Galway City were named Ireland's Water Schools of the Year (primary and secondary). Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil impressed the judges with their commitment to the Water theme and spreading water conservation messages in their school and community. Along with rainwater collection, visiting a wastewater treatment plant and holding a water-themed action day, the school surveyed students on plastic bottle versus reusable bottle use. Their actions led to an impressive decrease in water use from 11.87l per person per day to 9.98l. Winning Secondary School, Dominican College from Taylors Hill, Galway had a similar decrease in per person per day water use, dropping from 10.09l to 8.45l during the course of their work on the Water theme. The school also impressed with their work carrying out beach cleans and hosting a political debate on environmental issues. The two schools were chosen from a list of eight regional winners, who were awarded for their water conservation measures as part of their participation in the Green-Schools Water theme.

The Green-Schools programme has moved much of its interaction online for the current school year, having developed a suite of Green-Schools Stay Home resources since March, including 13 weeks of activities related to the Water theme. This is the seventh year of the awards and partnership with Uisce Éireann, which has seen over 2,000 schools attend interactive Water Workshops and Walk for Water Events since 2013. Following the awards today, Geoffrey Bourke of Uisce Éireann, said: "A key part of Uisce Éireann's role in safeguarding Ireland's water supplies is helping the next generation understand the importance of conserving water. I am delighted to say that in the past year alone, as a result of this programme, Green-Schools have saved almost 600 million litres of water.

"The success of the participating schools in reducing water usage and raising awareness about water issues really highlights how important it is to learn about the value of water and water conservation from a young age. That's why this is such an important programme and one that Uisce Éireann is proud to sponsor."

MC-ing the event from a remote studio, Green-Schools Manager Cathy Baxter said: "It was definitely not the same to be staring into a camera and set of screens for today's event, instead of at a group of friendly faces, but we have to carry on. Over 200 members of the school's communities and each winners' extended family could watch the ceremony through a live link today and we received messages of support that students and families appreciated their work being rewarded and recognised in this way. Messages like that keep us going at times like this!"

Today, 12 students won prizes for their artwork designed for this year's Green-Schools Uisce Éireann Poster Competition and four groups of students were honoured for their work as Water Ambassadors in their schools and communities. This year also saw the first group of students winning for their entry to the inaugural video category of the Poster Competition.

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