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Water Demand Management: A Strategy for Irish Water Sustainability

Jennifer Brady

Jennifer Brady

Supervisors: Prof. Nick Gray and Dr Ken Irvine

Domestic water consumption, group water schemes, metering and charging

Many parts of Ireland are currently and will increasingly be subject to the problem of dwindling water supplies and escalating water demand, an issue exacerbated by rapid changes in demographic structure and climate change. Water Demand Management (WDM) is a new concept that works in conjunction with existing water supply infrastructure, and attempts to avoid or delay the need for development of new resources by setting optimal abstraction volumes and subsequently controlling demand through management of water usage. Specific actions of WDM include integrated use of conservation measures, efficiency of water-use appliances, metering, charging and building regulations incorporating water use minimization. It also requires a new management structure, decentralized technologies and changing user attitudes. There is a dearth of information relating to current domestic water usage patterns in Ireland. Initially a detailed understanding of variances in household water consumption will be established through the use of water diaries and analysis of weekly and seasonal fluctuations in domestic water usage patterns on a number of group water scheme (GWS) households across Ireland. Additionally surveys of both GWS members and members of the general public will be carried out to assess water usage behaviour and attitudes to water conservation. Simple WDM measures will be tested on GWS households to determine their effectiveness in reducing per capita consumption. The management structure of the water supply industry will be examined in terms of sustainability and its strengths and weaknesses identified. Using simple models based on various efficiency options, a range of Irish supply types (group, small, medium and large supply systems) will be tested within the context of climate change and socio-economic growth in terms of achieving water security to 2060.

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Last updated 14 December 2009