An Fóram Uisce – The Irish Water Forum is the national statutory body representative of all stakeholders with an interest in the quality of Ireland’s water bodies. The National Federation of Group Water Schemes is among its members, along with representatives from agriculture, housing, business and many other areas. Following a recent Forum workshop on education for water conservation, representatives of the Forum met with Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Malcolm Noonan to discuss the possibility for a national strategy on water conservation to make all homes water efficient. In this piece, the Forum’s communication and education lead, Gretta McCarron explains why.
A secure supply of high-quality drinking water is essential for the health of every citizen and is critical for future economic growth and development. The population is set to rise by up to 40% by 2050 yet Uisce Éireann states that 58% of its water supply zones have a supply risk at current demand.
In recent years, we have experienced water supply restrictions during dry periods, with national hosepipe bans in 2018 and 2020. Climate change will result in decreased rainfall in summer and longer dry and drought periods.
The Government has committed to building 33,000 homes every year for the next 10 years. Making these new homes water efficient could reduce domestic water demand by 20%, easing pressure on public water supplies and providing considerable water investment savings.
‘We sometimes forget that the water from our taps has been taken from a local river, lake or well and undergone a costly process of treatment and pumping before it reaches our homes’, says Dr Matt Crowe, chairperson of the Irish Water Forum. ‘At a minimum, we need to ensure that all new homes are built to be water efficient’.
Updating Building Regulations to include mandatory water efficiency measures, such as low flow showerheads, aerated taps, dual flush toilets, and rainwater harvesting will reduce water demand in new buildings and provide energy saving benefits, reduce costs to the taxpayer and help the environment.
There is also an opportunity for local authorities to include similar measures in new County Climate Action Plans leading to greenhouse gas emission reductions, energy savings and a healthier environment.
Meeting with Ministers O’Brien and Noonan
At a recent meeting with Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Malcolm Noonan, The Water Forum asked the ministers to lead on the development of a national strategy for water conservation that includes a programme of actions to implement water saving measures.
Ministers O’Brien and Noonan welcomed the timely input and suggested that the Forum bring the recommendations to the Cabinet committee on environment and climate change. A follow-up meeting with building regulation officials has been planned for September.
More details on An Fóram Uisce – The Irish Water Forum’s water conservation policy position are available at www.thewaterforum.ie.
This article originally featured in the most recent edition of the Rural Water News magazine. To read the full edition and to sign up to our magazine mailing list, click here.