Under the Water Services Act, the Water Forum has a statutory mandate to advise the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage on water conservation, and the Water Services Policy Statement identifies the Forum’s specific role in examining and making recommendations on further strategic policy responses to improve water conservation.
At the EPA Climate Conference yesterday, presenters noted that climate change will result in more extreme weather events, notably heavy rainfall events resulting in flooding but also extended dry periods resulting in droughts and soil moisture deficits. The impacts will vary regionally with drought being more of an issue in the east of the country.
This is where most of the population lives and where there is already a lack of resilience in water supplies. Ireland’s population is projected to grow by at least 25% and with increased economic activity there will be additional stress on water supplies. In addition to that, the Government has committed to building 33,000 new homes each year over the next decade. The Water Forum recommends that water efficiency measures are included for all new developments similar to energy efficiency measures. Using less water reduces costs associated with providing water, reduces energy use and helps protect the environment.
Building on research commissioned by the Forum and workshops and engagements with key stakeholders, the Forum has developed a policy position on water conservation, that identifies the need for a Government-led national strategy for water conservation.