Local business, Local and National Policymakers
There are various strands to a water system that is sustainable:
Reduced Leaks in Pipe Network
Lack of proper investment over many decades has meant that we have an extremely leaky water pipe network in Ireland. Unbelievable as it sounds, almost half of all water produced is lost. This scandalous waste should be stopped without delay by replacing and repairing all faulty pipes that deliver water to our homes, schools and workplaces.
Replace Lead in Pipe Network
Until about the early 1970s, much of the water pipes were made from lead. However, excessive exposure to lead can be harmful, with pregnant women and children under the age of 6 being more susceptible to its effects. Lead pipes in the water distribution network and in the plumbing within homes and other buildings should be replaced with pipes made from safe alternative materials such as copper or plastic. The relevant state or local authority bodies responsible should continue to monitor water supplies at the tap and ensure that this risk is eliminated from our water system.
Using relatively simple technology, rainwater can be collected (usually from the roofs of houses and other buildings) and stored in tanks for later use. The wet west of Ireland climate is ideal for the mass collection of untreated rainwater for use in gardening, horticulture, livestock, irrigation etc. The collected rainwater can also be treated to varying degrees for industrial uses and for domestic use such as in toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, showers and baths.
Greywater is wastewater generated from wash hand basins, showers, baths, clothes washing machines and kitchen sinks. Traditionally, greywater is discharged into sewage drains with human waste (from toilets). Instead, greywater can be recycled on-site for uses such as toilet flushing, landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands. Greywater recycling reduces demand on conventional water supplies; reduces pressure on sewage treatment systems and allows nutrients to be reclaimed.
More Efficient Use of Water
Less water would be wasted with the use of certain water saving devices and technologies such as: low-flow shower heads; low-flush toilets; dual-flush toilets; tap aerators (save water by mixing the water with air); high efficiency clothes washing machines and dishwashers; waterless urinals; water butts. Leaks in the pipe network need to be repaired. Mulching around plants reduces water lost to evaporation.
Increased Education and Awareness about Water Conservation
There needs to be comprehensive education for the entire population about the importance of water conservation. This would take various forms: formal education at primary and secondary level; information sheets in libraries and other public buildings; billboard advertising campaigns; a dedicated website; web videos etc.
Ending the Fluoridation of the Public Water Supply
The practice of adding fluoride to the public water supply to reduce tooth decay should end because of concern about the possible adverse health effects of fluoridation. Galway (and indeed, Ireland) should follow the example of Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Finland and other countries and cease water fluoridation.