It can be instructive to look at out nearest neighbour for insights on how to deal with problems at home. This is so because of similarity of climate and infrastructure. Nowhere is this more application than water supplies. Any potential threat to water supplies would be devastating for Irish industry and any hope of recovery.
A hosepipe ban has been announced for southern England which is unprecedented at this time of year and is due to the unusually dry winter. It has now been announced that Dublin’s water reserves stand at 148 days against a target of 183 days but as yet no hosepipe ban has been mooted. Looking deeper into the issue, the UK leakage rate is around 26% (Thames Water and United Utilities – Irish Times 6 April 2012) with utilities being urged to improve on this figure. However the Irish leakage rate is much higher with many areas at above 50% (Cork City 55%, Limerick City 57% – Cork Examiner 6 Feb 2012).
Urgent action is required to protect water supplies so that there is no disruption to industry or agriculture. Fixing leaks must be a priority (the comparison with the UK leakage rate is shameful). Water charging for domestic users must also be brought in as soon as possible to stop domestic waste, it is up to the politicians to convince voters that water is not free and should be paid for by a fair means.
Over recent years the priority for resource efficiency seems to be energy efficiency and much government money has been spend on improving the way we use energy and setting up SEAI. However, it can be argued that water just as important. A campaign of water minimisation audits for industry and commerce should be started; our own experience is that there are substantial savings to be made in the water is used (some savings exceeded 80%).