Stay thirsty for saving our future

We live in a world in which we tend to undervalue the common, but that perception can suddenly change when it becomes scarce. Hence this week the principle of scarcity is to the fore in Ireland - a product of abundance, one we utilise, not cherish; take for granted, not appreciate, is now taking control of our lives. Yes, we are talking about water and the lack of it.

On this occasion it is not about the changes/charges proposed by Irish Water not so long ago, yet, the heart of the issue remains the same. In a country that is pluvial, the infrastructure to retain it is simply inadequate, and in little more than a month, the country is running low on water, affecting the way we live, our food crops, farm animals, our industry. It is becoming an increasingly pressing issue.

There is the argument that droughts occur in Ireland far too infrequently to invest huge amounts in upgrading our water supplies - similar to Ireland's inadequacies in rare snow falls - but water is unequivocably the most precious resource.

Understandably Ireland's lakes and rivers are feeling the pressure of years of a growing population and changes in the way we use the land. Water quality is important, not just for us humans, but our fish and other aquatic life, for recreation like swimming and fishing, for industry. Thus, as demands for fresh water increase and we suffer shortages in times of weather like we are currently experiencing, there is an even greater need to manage fresh water carefully.

Yes, we can point the finger at Irish Water - too many leaks still exist - and Irish Water acknowledges that half our water is lost through leaks. According to the Irish quango it is currently undertaking water main replacement projects in Cornamona, Carraroe, Roundstone and Galway city.

Despite under-investment over the previous decades by governments, we must also look to ourselves as individuals. The biggest way we can help is to take ownership and reduce our own water footprint - reducing shower times by just two minutes could probably save some 15 litres of water; turning the tap off when cleaning your teeth - a possible four litres; running a dishwasher or washing machine only when it is full; harvesting rain to water the garden (a water butt attached to a drainpipe could save 5,000 litres a year with which to water your garden or clean the car; reducing the amount of pollution entering our waterways; harvesting grey water (showers, washing machines, etc ).

So go on, try it - for Galway, Ireland, the world, the planet, and future generations.

Linley MacKenzie

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