Wising up to water usage

EACH person in Ireland uses an average of 200 litres, or almost two full baths of water, per day for drinking, washing clothes and dishes, taking showers, flushing toilets and other purposes.

That’s a lot of water.

Once again, the long warm spell has put the spotlight on the demand for and use of water, with every local authority appealing to people to conserve limited supplies. And when you consider that some counties waste up to 50% through leaks and poorly controlled taps, there is huge scope for saving this precious resource.

It costs a lot of money to treat water for human consumption, but this is the water we also use for flushing toilets, showers, and washing clothes. A waste, surely, for we could be using rain water, for instance, for purposes other than human consumption.

Water is going to become an increasingly urgent issue, especially when the effects of climate become more pronounced. There are predictions of extreme weather variations, including long periods of heavy rain followed by drought.

Our population is also set to grow, with some experts saying it could double by 2100. New water sources will have to be found. We have an abundance of rain water, but much of this ends up underground. Large supplies of groundwater are unused at present.

Engineers are already pointing to the need to use more ground water, while, according to the EPA, new reservoirs will most likely be built and water transferred from one area to another. But, even more practical steps can also be taken — houses, apartment blocks, shops, schools, hospitals and factory buildings could have systems to harvest roof water, as happens in other countries.

Tanks to store roof water can be installed under chutes at the side of a building, while underground tanks with pumps and filtration systems can also be provided.

An illusion up to now has been that water is ‘’free’’ because we don’t have to pay up front for it. However, with water metering on the way, there could be a sea change in attitudes and uses and more creative thinking on this all-important issue.


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