Water charges, flooding, leaking pipes –

Water will be one of the major challenges facing Ireland. An example of the controversy surrounding this issue was the poor and un-coordinated response to dealing with flooding last winter.

Controversy too surrounds the recent discussion around water charges triggered by Minister Gormley’s announcement that the government will introduce metering as a means to conserve water. However charging households for water usage only deals with end use control and will not protect water source and quality. The cost alone of building the infrastructure necessary to meter households will be a major headache, and will only just go towards paying for this costly resource.

Environmental NGOs have raised concern about government action on water and the issue of protecting water. Sustainable Water Network (SWAN)claim that the Government’s water strategy is ‘full of leaks’ , and on 22 March protested over the Government’s poor standards when it comes to our obligation under EU law to put in place adequate river basin management plans. Local Authorities currently have the responsibility for devising these plans, and Donal Hickey writes in today’s Irish Examiner on how the Heritage Council may be the best body to coordinate a proper response to how we protect water in Ireland. But whoever has responsiblity, they must be adequately resourced for the task.

Furthermore water protection, water recycling and flood plain management and coastal zone management plans need to be integrated into planning legislation as a matter of urgency.

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