Ireland unveils water plan

Ireland's three-year plan for its water supply puts more emphasis on water conservation and promises new infrastructure.

The plan, published on Monday by Environment Minister John Gormley, stresses the growing importance of the water sector as we face growing climate change and aims to provide ‘the necessary platofrm to steer the sector in the optimal direction’.

The programme it outlines covers over 130 contracts and water conservation projects already underway worth a billion Euros as well as 340 further contracts to be agreed in 2010 – 2012 with a value of €1.8 billion Euros.

With the gloomy economic climate and completion of the first cycle of River Basin Management Plans, the new programme aims to prioritise projects that target environmental compliance issues.

The Minister said the despite restraints on public spending, Government would continue to ensure resources were there to maintain momentum in the water services sector.

“The continuing high level of Exchequer allocation is a clear statement of the priority which the Government is giving to preserving and protecting our water resources as a key element of our environment, to meeting EU standards for drinking water and wastewater treatment and to providing critical infrastructure that will ensure ongoing support for economic development,” said Mr Gormley.

He claimed investment under the programme will also support over 4,000 jobs in the construction sector this year and will support many additional jobs in manufacturing and in operating and maintaining new infrastructure.

Highlighting supply difficulties that arose during the freeze last January, the Minister said: “It did not make sense from an economic or environmental perspective to invest in expanding water treatment capacity if there is a significant loss of treated water in ageing or damaged networks.”

The programme provides for investment of some 320 million Euros in repairing exisitng infrastructure.

The Minister also stressed the importance of embracing innovative measures to reduce demand water, announcing that the use of water saving devices will be explored on a pilot basis during the programme period including devices in toilet cisterns, to complement the dual flush requirement introduced under the Building Regulations.

Sam Bond

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