Dublin in urgent need of new water supply source - The lessons for Ireland

Irish Water has just published a report which sets out the urgent need for a new water supply source for the Eastern and Midlands Region of the country. The report identifies that projected demand for water in Dublin alone is set to increase by over 50% by 2050 – which is well beyond the capacity of the existing sources which serve the region.

It is expected that 215 million litres per day, in excess of existing capacity, will be needed by 2050 for the Dublin Region and that this rises to 330 million litres per day when the surrounding region is included.

The report also points out that recent water outages in Dublin (2010 – 2014), which were disruptive to business and domestic users, cost the Irish economy more than €78m a day.

Without a new source of supply, future shortages and outage disruptions are inevitable.

Irish Water is to assess the report's findings over the next eight weeks with stakeholders, before deciding on the best supply option – which media reports suggest is a Shannon-based supply option.

“The Water Supply Project (Eastern / Midlands Region)” was formerly known as “the Water Supply Project – Dublin Region”, and so the need for a solution has been long known.


The Atlantic Way View?

Water shortages in Dublin have been forecast for over two decades and so, given the growth of population, business and tourism during this period, it should be no surprise that the issue is now critical and a point of focus for Irish Water.

However, it also raises an even bigger issue. This is clearly associated with over-concentrated development within Ireland and so it should be clear that Ireland doesn’t just need a growth strategy – it also needs a ‘growth absorption’ strategy.

The Atlantic Way’s view is that the key part of this strategy should be a REAL DRIVE to achieve more balanced Regional Economic growth – with a plan and with targets to bring this about.

Successive governments may point to initiatives that have been undertaken, but the Ireland ‘population share’ chart from 1841 to 2011 is very telling. Every single census since 1841 has seen a further population share shift to the Dublin/Leinster Region. Back then, 30% of the population was in Dublin/Leinster. That share has consistently climbed and has now risen to almost 55%. 

Should Ireland be happy to see such over-concentration? We don’t think so. Are there solutions? Of course. Ireland could start by taking Regional development far more seriously. Look at creating Super Regions. For instance, the Wild Atlantic Way is a great tourism initiative – why not an imaginative Atlantic Way Economic Corridor, supporting and building strong sectoral clusters?

If Ireland doesn’t address the issue of over-concentration, there will a huge price to be paid - associated with alleviating the effects of over-development, congestion and deterioration in quality of life. The water supply challenge for Dublin is one example.

Details of the East and Midlands Water Supply Project can be viewed at www.watersupplyproject.ie


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