Dublin facing further water shortages, warns expert

Water-stressed east coast has high population density and least surface water available

Irish Water plans to build a 170-kilometre pipeline from the River Shannon in Tipperary to Dublin to combat water shortages in the capital, but campaigning lawyer and investment analyst Emma Kennedy says their case is full of holes.


Water supplies in Dublin are on a knife-edge with shortages set to increase due to a combination of population growth and climate change, a leading climatologist has warned.

Dr Conor Murphy of Maynooth University said further restrictions were likely due to the ongoing failure to ensure water supplies were climate-resilient.

Dublin was “just about meeting average demand” because of massive leakage and a supply system that has not changed much since the 19th century. There does not have to be an extreme weather event such as a drought to tip it into crisis, he said.

This was especially the case as the highest population density was where surface water was least available – along the water-stressed east coast.

A combination of measures were required, he said. It was notoriously costly to get leakage in the system below 20 per cent, although he accepted work was being done in this area by Irish Water.

Water efficiency and recycling had to be improved urgently. “We are quite profligate at household level,” he said, with treated water flushed down the toilet or used to water lawns and wash cars, with little tradition of rainwater harvesting.

Temporary night-time water restrictions and reduced water pressure was put in place in the capital last summer due to the drought-like conditions, a situation exacerbated by under-investment in infrastructure, according to Irish Water.