Posted by in Features.

Water Water Everywhere

by thereluctantemigrant

There’s certain comfort in always knowing that no matter what happens with the Irish weather it will a., not suit everyone but b., and rather amazingly, not suit anyone!

For a country that has made talking about the weather an accepted topic for conversation nationwide, it is amazing that this glorious weather is not widely accepted and appreciated as being just about the best thing that has happened Ireland since, well since 1976, when it was as hot before.

Days into the heatwave, delightedly embracing our new way of life, the media flooded with stories of droughts and shortages which would see the exact things we were enjoying, like our garden, the plastic paddling pools we bought on sale three Septembers ago, snatched from our grasp and made no less than, a crime. The children’s noses pressed to the glass as they looked onto the yellowing garden and the well wilted paddling pool, ‘how come we can’t use the pool’ they asked, ‘because there is no water in the country due to the all the sunshine children and to conserve the water the government have first targeted your two-ring paddling pool’. The words sounded ridiculous even as I heard myself speak them.

The conversation didn’t stop there we went on to further clarify that Ireland was an island fortified with rivers, lakes, streams and blessed with an average rainfall of approximately a metre of rain a year, it is nothing short of a joke that there could be any instance of a drought in Ireland. And ironic that when it rains heavily over a period albeit intermittently, many of cities, towns and agricultural farmland floods, so exactly what weather is ideal?

Take Qatar, built on sand, a desert country with an average rainfall of only .075 of a metre per year! Not a river or a lake in sight and somehow there is always water. Water enough to run houses granted without lavish grassy gardens or rows of flowers, but that the compromise. We live in a concrete world surrounded by sand. There are massive issues around water supply regarding domestic and agricultural facilities and of course there are measures in place, for example Bangladeshi car washers can wash a car, (car here to mean a 4×4 GMC Yukon, with a similar surface area to 8 Toyota Yaris’s), using a bottle of miraculous spray and elbow grease. And guess what, we pay for it. There’s a water meter on each house and you pay for whatever water you use, and nobody complains, possibly because we know that the government are just laying on a price to pass the buck, they are making plan big plans alleviate the water shortage.

The Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) is planning to construct five mega water reservoir sites along with an interconnecting network of large diameter water pipelines. The project, to be constructed in two stages will deliver a storage capacity of about 2,300 million gallons of water in 24 huge concrete reservoirs and about 480km of buried ductile iron pipelines with a diameter of up to 1.6m. The second stage will be implemented in 2020 will include additional pipelines and 16 new reservoirs within the five mega sites, all in all it will achieve an ultimate capacity of 3,800 million gallons of water. That’s a lot of paddling pools. And all that on 75 millimetres of water a year!  The water fee I pay is equivalent to 20 euros a month, a considerable nominal fee in a desert country, certainly not extortionate and the government have promised to decrease once the reservoirs are in operation.

It raises the question if Qatar can make itself rich and supply other countries with its natural oil reserves and able to make substantial efforts to sustain itself with only 75mm of water, how can Ireland not sustain its water demand, or some aspect of it water demand, or even a paddling pool for that matter.

Stubborn in our stalemate of not paying water charges and now facing a drought, it asks the questions, would the water charges have been accepted if they came with a viable tangible plan, other than the plan to increase the charges year on year until we ended paying extortionate rates for our most plentiful resource.