Investment in rainwater harvesting systems could help prevent future water shortages and create jobs, according to Senator Ciaran Cannon.
The Fine Gael senator said this week that the potential of the sector in Ireland should not be ignored, while he described the country’s recent swing from widespread flooding to water shortages as “farcical”.
“In the last two months we have been faced with the farcical situation whereby large swathes of the country have been submerged under water one week and without running water the next,” Sen Cannon said. “The potential to create jobs, save money, and secure our domestic water needs by investing in rainwater harvesting systems cannot be understated. The Chartered Institute of Environmental and Water Management in the UK recently stated that a German study into rainwater harvesting showed that 35 per cent of new buildings built in Germany in 2005 were equipped with a rainwater collection system. The turnover from this industry is estimated to be in the region €340 million, with around 5,000 jobs having been created. Even very large organisations have embraced the initiative, with the Daimler-Benz plant in Cologne reportedly covering all its ‘greywater’ needs through rain harvesting and a large underground reservoir.
“Most households in Ireland use a mere 15 per cent of their costly treated water supply for drinking and cooking with the other 85 per cent being used for ‘greywater’ purposes, such as laundry,” Sen Cannon added. “With the cost of producing drinking water coming in at close to 30 cent per cubic metre, flushing it down the toilet makes little financial or environmental sense.
“Ireland’s unemployment rate is heading towards 13 per cent, and in the absence of any job creation plan from the Government an entire generation of young people now see unemployment and emigration as the only things in store for the future. If people were encouraged, by means of grant aid, which may very well be revenue neutral when the cost of water treatment is considered, to install rainwater collection systems the potential to create crucially needed jobs, secure our future water needs, and protect the environment is immense.”