Sunday 21 October 2018

Water restrictions could have been avoided if infrastructure problems were fixed - expert claims

Tomorrow sees the introduction of a hosepipe ban in the Greater Dublin Area, with households set to be hit with €125 fines for excessive water usage during the drought. (Stock photo)
Tomorrow sees the introduction of a hosepipe ban in the Greater Dublin Area, with households set to be hit with €125 fines for excessive water usage during the drought. (Stock photo)

Conor McCrave

Water restrictions could have been avoided if rotting infrastructure was fixed, an analyst has claimed.

Irish Water has reduced pressure overnight in the Greater Dublin Area after temperatures soared past 30C last week and demand outweighed supply.

A ban on the use of hosepipes for Dublin residents will also come into effect tomorrow, anyone caught breaching it could face prosecution or a €125 fine.

However, Emma Kennedy founder of Kennedy Analysis, has been carrying out analysis of Dublin’s water infrastructure and says more than half of supplies are being lost through leakage. 

“Ireland has the worst leakage in Western Europe and there is not a single country worse than Ireland,” she told Independent.ie.

Ms Kennedy said it was important that consumers are aware of the need to conserve water but claims it could have been avoided if Irish Water prioritised upgrading the supply network.

“Clearly there is a need for restrictions right now and it is important that people are conscious of that but the message is very misleading, this is not the consumer's fault, it is Irish Water’s,” Ms Kennedy said.

She said more than half of water, around 57pc, is lost through holes in corroded pipes, Ms Kennedy noted that this is far more than in cities like London, which is losing between 14pc and 27pc of water through leaking pipes.

According to Irish Water, the amount of water being consumed had overtaken the reservoir supplies as a result of the hot weather. However, Kennedy said the demand for water was likely to be around half of that, coming in at around 300 million litres and that the rest was being lost.

“For every one litre that is used there needs to be two litres put into the system,” according to Kennedy.

“It makes it seem as if people are recklessly using water,” she said adding “the crisis has been caused by the fact the water supplier is one of the most wasteful suppliers in the world”.

She added: “In the first summer that Ireland has had in decades, we can’t even fill a paddling pool for children.”

A spokeswoman for Irish Water said they are investing in replacing and repairing leaking pipes.

She said: "The margin of supply over demand in the Midlands & Eastern region is unable to deal with the challenges posed by a dry period when demands increase and raw water available comes under pressure.

"Irish Water will invest €500 million over the next  five year period to drive down leakage and replace the worst pipes and the savings from this will barely address growth in demand pending a new supply.

"Only the  Water Supply Scheme with is proposing to take water from the Shannon can provide the security of supply which would ensure that extreme weather events could be catered for without water shortages."

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