Pay for water? Don't be daft
Published 03/08/2014 | 02:30
Health experts are divided over whether the new water charges will improve or damage the health of the nation. A major row has now broken out among top public health boffins over the potential health benefits of people getting more careful with water.
Some argue that the surge in gym membership that water charges is sure to bring, can't but help with our obesity crisis. With gyms already being inundated with new members eager to use the free water, one expert says, "When people head up to the gym in the morning for their shower, who knows? They might decide to do a bit of exercise while they're there."
However. other boffins are warning about the danger of what's called underflushing. Underflushing is a phenomenon whereby people will try to get more than one use out of their toilet between flushes. Standard public health wisdom is that as long as underflushing is confined to maybe two or three uses between flushes, and as long as it is confined to number ones, then there shouldn't be an issue.
There is a worry however that more extreme underflushing could lead to the spread of dengue fever, malaria and E-coli. Experts have also raised the spectre of people spreading disease by casually calling into friends' houses to use their facilities, perhaps also taking the opportunity to brush their teeth while they are there.
Indeed the fact that most members of the public will now be carrying a toothbrush and possibly a facecloth and a loofah everywhere they go could also lead to the spread of germs.
Guidelines are now being put in place to protect against what experts call "opportunistic abluting." Experts say that if you have someone around for dinner and they are missing from the table for more than five minutes you should follow them upstairs.
"They may be trying to take a sneaky shower or maybe a casual hairwash in the sink", said one person familiar with the practice. It is thought this will be more of a danger for people known locally to have luxurious Celtic-tiger-era bathrooms.
Meanwhile, confusion reigns too over how Irish Water are going to figure out the amount of water being used by children. Water bosses have promised that if it emerges that children are using more water than the standard free allowance per child, then that allowance will be increased. But when questioned on how they will figure out which water in the house is being used by the child, the water people seemed confused.
"We're looking into it", said one official, "We are thinking we might use Archimedes' principle. Or is it Boyle's law?"
Meanwhile, on the streets, there is scepticism about the whole thing. One man we spoke to yesterday said, "Mark my words. The Irish will never pay for water. I remember years ago a fellah came on the Late Late trying to get Irish people to buy water. Ballygowan he called it. Had it in fancy bottles and all. Laughed out of town he was. Never heard of since. Paying for water. Was he mental or what? That'll never catch on."