As was discussed recently, the world will face many challenges over the coming decades, just one of which will be a shortage of water. This is already happening, in Ireland of all places.
As a result of the lack of water “The capital has no strategic reserves of water when it should have 10-20 per cent reserves at a minimum, while existing sources are operating near sustainable limits”. So more grand projects are being envisioned, “Dublin city councillors this week approved the consultants’ main proposal to bring excess water from the basin of the Shannon river to meet needs in the east and midlands”.
Things are apparently very near tipping point, the “four main water treatment plants in the greater Dublin region, which includes Kildare, north Wicklow and parts of Co Meath in addition to the capital. Their maximum output is between 540 and 550 million litres per day, while under normal circumstances demand is between 530 and 540 million litres per day”.
In an attempt to reduce waste, “Leakage from the system has been reduced from 42 per cent in 1996 to 28 per cent in 2002, but the report says that the maximum supply levels will be reached in the 2020s despite further efforts to reduce leakage”. However, more needs to be done before such a controversial project is even contemplated, water charging needs to be brought in and functioning, which might not be until 2012 or 2013 before anything else is considered.
If however as the report says that the best way of suppling water to the east “involves taking the water from a point north of Lough Derg and piping it to a reservoir at a cutaway bog at Garryhinch, close to Portarlington, Co Laois, where it would be treated and distributed” then so be it. Many in the west of Ireland seem accepting that Dublin with its population “predicted to reach 2.2 million by 2031” needs more water as a local resident said “We’ve an abundance of water . . . My land has been flooded and half the farm submerged in three to four feet of water for three years. This plan won’t solve the flooding but I believe it makes good sense to share an abundance with those who need it”.
What is promised for those areas that are affected is a “reservoir in a cutaway Bord na Móna bog that would double as ‘an innovative water-based eco park, with fishing, boating, cycling, water and leisure sports’, with the promise of 1,000 construction jobs, plus long-term tourism and recreation employment for the region.”
However, as the article points out it is not quite that simple. There are fundamental issues of mistrust, “farmers and anglers agree on only a few important points. Both insist the plan will do nothing to alleviate flooding and that it’s cynical to suggest otherwise. They hold Bord na Móna responsible for the silting of the waterways, and finger this as a prime cause of the summer – and some of the winter – flooding”.
The article continues saying that there is a need for real government agency with real powers to control the waterways, but the bigger point is that there is not one already, coupled with the fact that the one already in existance is not trusted. However, the bigger problem, as has been stated here before is that Ireland has perhaps one of the strangest political divisions in the world, with no relation to the modern world and worse which people are unable to relate to. This only leads to politicians feeling remote which in turn leads to mistrust, that fact that job creation figures and costs are seemingly plucked from the air together with wild and inaccurate comparisons made hardly helps matters.
However “parties” like Fianna Fáil need to die in order for some of this mistrust to fade. As for the water issue, this is just the beginning.