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Dublin Ireland: a city addressing challenging water supply, management, and governance issues

Mary Kelly-Quinn, School of Biology & Environmental Science, University College Dublin
Sean Blacklocke, School of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering, University College Dublin
Michael Bruen, School of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering, University College Dublin
Ray Earle, International Water Association
Eoin O'Neill, School of Geography, Planning & Environmental Policy, University College Dublin
John O'Sullivan, School of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering, University College Dublin
Patrick Purcell, School of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering, University College Dublin

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06921-190410

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Abstract

The population of Dublin City and its suburbs currently stands at 1.3 million and is projected to reach 2.1 million by 2022. There is pressure on its water supply system (inadequate catchment sources, ageing infrastructure including treatment facilities, and distribution network) with little or no spare capacity despite Ireland’s relatively high rainfall that is well distributed throughout the year; albeit the greatest rainfall occurs in the west and southwest and at some remove from Dublin. The current governance approach to addressing the projected water supply deficit relies heavily on a combination of identifying new supply sources to secure the long-term water supply needs of the city together with an intense drive toward achieving “demand-side” reduced usage and conservation targets in accordance with EU benchmarks for various individual and sectoral users. This potentially emerging crisis of water scarcity in Dublin, with drivers including population growth, greater industrial and institutional demands, migration, and climate change, has generated one of the most significant public water works projects proposed in Irish history, which is to abstract raw water from the Shannon River Basin in the midland region and, following treatment, pump it to a storage reservoir in a cut-away bog before piping to the Greater Dublin Area. The preparations for this scheme have brought to the forefront some longstanding Irish water resources governance issues and challenges. This provides a unique opportunity and imperative at this time to take a more comprehensive look at the decision-making process in this regard, one done in the context of new European and national policies requiring incorporation of integrated planning to sustain ecosystem services, water resources management, water services management, and flood defense principles, and one taking account of the current unprecedented state of flux in which water resources management institutions in Ireland, and in particular Dublin, find themselves following years of unconsolidated legislation and stand-alone institutions.

Key words

demand management; Dublin; full cost recovery; governance; water supply

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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