It is important that every sector is prepared for the unknown consequences of Brexit. While it is generally felt the impact of Brexit should not be significant in the water industry in Ireland, none the less, the NFGWS is encouraging every Group Water Scheme (GWS) to carry out some basic preparations.
Every scheme should think about how materials and equipment used in day to day GWS operations are sourced. While some products are manufactured locally, in many instances, they are manufactured and/or imported from other countries and jurisdictions including the UK. Where products are manufactured outside the UK, they may still be imported to Ireland through the UK from a UK based wholesaler.
In particular, schemes might consider:
1. Chemicals used in water treatment processes
Every privately sourced GWS coming under the remit of the drinking water regulations will use some chemical as part of their treatment process. By far the most commonly used is the disinfectant sodium hypochlorite (liquid Chlorine). Some schemes may also use additional chemicals for pH correction, nitrate removal or as coagulants, etc.
The NFGWS have directly contacted DBO operators highlighting this potential issue and asking each operator to ensure necessary steps are taken to avoid potential issues with their suppliers. Similarly, the NFGWS have also spoken to a number of chemical suppliers supplying products directly to GWSs. In both cases, it is felt that any impact in terms of logistics or supply should be minimal.
2. Other products used in the construction of water distribution networks and water treatment processes
There are a range of other products used by GWSs, purchased either directly from a supplier or through a contractor. Products manufactured in the UK generally have a quality standard recognised by the European Union. In the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit, these standards may not be immediately recognised which may result in schemes having to source alternative products for a period. In the event of an ‘orderly’ Brexit where these products continue to be recognised, there may still be some logistical and price issues to overcome.
What should your GWS do?
In either scenario the likely impact of Brexit on the GWS sector is estimated to be small, however, the NFGWS is recommending that every scheme prepares by carrying out the following:
- Speak directly with your suppliers to identify products manufactured or imported from the UK.
- Ask suppliers to identify any likely logistical issues that may arise as a result of Brexit.
- While it is unnecessary for any scheme to stockpile particular products, it would be prudent to ensure that your GWS has sufficient stocks to maintain a quality treated water supply over the coming months.
For further information on any of the above, please contact your local NFGWS Development Officer