Water, water


This is the second time within a year that households and businesses in the Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare areas will lose their water supply between 8 pm and 7 am. The problem, as on the previous occasion, is not a shortage of water but the capacity of treatment plants to produce enough of it to a high standard. An algae growth at Roundwood reservoir was the culprit last March. This time, difficulties at Ballymore Eustace in Kildare involve water discolouration and turbidity. Plant inadequacies, along with minimum reserves of treated water, are direct consequences of poor planning and past investment failures. The system, creaking for years, now threatens a damaging meltdown.

Political responses have been predictable. Rather than address the issue of inadequate water treatment plants - the source of the trouble - opposition politicians criticised the planned introduction of water meter charges in 2015. On the Government side, the formal establishment of Irish Water, which will be the largest public utility since the ESB was set up, was offered as a panacea. It also provided an opportunity to promote a scheme to raid the Shannon for a new water supply for Dublin. Irish Water, it was suggested, should fast-track this project.

Even if the Shannon scheme goes ahead, a water pipeline is unlikely to reach Dublin before 2020. That kind of delay could spell ruin for the hospitality sector and misery for millions of householders because of frequent interruptions in supply. An immediate upgrade of treatment plants is required, not just in Dublin but in rural Ireland where “boil water” notices are regularly issued. Water metering could actually help the situation because of a predicted fall-off in demand.

Irish Water will be allowed to raise money for investment. It faces organisational problems, however, because of a requirement to absorb the existing water and waste treatment staff of 34 local authorities. The top-heavy problems of the HSE and inbuilt inefficiencies come to mind.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.