To support its statutory advisory role in water conservation, the Forum commissioned research in 2021 on ‘A Framework for Improving Domestic Water Conservation in Ireland’, which was completed by Dr Sarah Cotterill, University College Dublin, and Dr Peter Melville-Shreeve, University of Exeter. The research highlighted the need for sustained Government -led buy in to implement water conservation measures in Ireland and presented ten key policy recommendations.
In June 2022, the Water Forum hosted an interagency workshop on water conservation, with a specific focus on updating building regulations, water efficiency labelling of fittings and appliances and smart metering as a method of awareness of water use. The workshop was supported by Dr Sarah Cotterill, UCD and attendees included representatives from the DHLGH Water Policy, Building Regulations, Irish Water, the NFGWS, Irish Green Building Council, and the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Head of Water Efficiency and Demand Management).
While this workshop identified many challenges to address domestic water conservation without a price incentive of savings in water charges, a number of key steps were identified:
- Building from international learnings, including the UK, develop a plan for a government-led strategy for water conservation in Ireland. This should include an approach to updating building regulations to include water conservation measures and the implementation of mandatory water efficiency labelling on fittings and appliances.
- Build an evidence base, including cost-benefit analysis (financial and environmental) for the need for and benefits of including water conservation measures in the Building Regulations, for water efficiency labelling and for the use of smart meters as an awareness tool for water use.
- Develop a water saving culture through the delivery of education and awareness programmes on water conservation, to raise awareness of the increasing demand for domestic water, the need for water efficiency and the financial and environmental benefits of reducing domestic water use.
The Forum is planning a second workshop in 2023 to focus on education and awareness on water conservation to further expand this discussion.