Green New Deal News

Irish Water to launch a 25-year plan to improve water supply

Irish Water has urged the public to contribute to its 25-year plan on making the country's supply safer, cleaner and more sustainable as the climate crisis offers up significant challenges into the future.

The utility firm said its National Water Resources Plan (NWRP) is Ireland’s first 25-year strategic plan "enabling us to move towards safe, secure, reliable and sustainable water supplies for all of our customers and communities, whilst safeguarding public health and the environment".

It said that for the first time, the NWRP "will provide a country-wide analysis to identify the water we have, the water we use, the water we need and any potential risk to water quality".

The plan sets out methods and options to meet shortfalls, while also looking at its impact on the environment.

Irish Water has come in for severe criticism from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in recent years.

In its report for 2019 published during this summer, the EPA issued a withering rebuke for what it called “unacceptable” delays in fixing key elements of the national water supply.

The EPA took aim repeatedly at the water utility firm over disinfection of water, lead contamination, and delays in securing water supply infrastructure.

By the end of 2019, Irish Water had assessed only around a third of approximately 140,000 hazards across all public supplies, the report said.

While work on eradicating the risk posed by cryptosporidium parasites in the water was praised by the EPA, the agency said progress on other hazards has been slow.

“Irish Water needs to progress the assessment of the remaining hazards (approximately 93,000) across all public water supplies. Over 10,000 high and very high-risk hazards have been identified so far through assessments as part of existing programmes and processes.

"The EPA is concerned at the slow rate of progress by Irish Water in taking action to reduce the most significant risks at public water supplies,” it said.

Irish Water said its new plan will calculate the demand for water from homes, businesses, and industry now and into the future, as well as assess the amount of water available in existing supplies.

It will also assess the impact of weather events such as drought on water supplies and will identify areas where is not enough water supply to meet demand or where there is a risk to water quality.

Head of asset management with Irish Water, Sean Laffey, said: “Our infrastructure is under increasing pressure to meet the current demand for water as a result of population growth, climate change, and our changing environment. To prevent unplanned water outages, water conservation orders, reductions in pressure or restrictions to water supplies, we have to plan ahead."

A 10-week public consultation will seek feedback at until February 16.