In a recent article in The Sunday Times called Water, Water Everywhere, but not a drop to drink, Richard Oakley and Enda Leahy outline how, despite being one of the wettest countries in the world outside the tropics, and despite May 2006 being one of the wettest on record, Ireland faces a water shortage.
Their solution is to charge for water.
Well, water has been privatised in the UK, and there’s still a shortage there, so charging for water isn’t the panacea it seems. Fixing the leaks, amounting to 45% of the supply, would help enormously too.
The problem with water supply, as with energy and so much else, is that for the past century or so it has been centralized. There was no water shortage when there was a population of 8 million people in Ireland, and not because the rich did not hose down their lawns. It was because people put a barrel under a rain-pipe. This was done within living memory, but all too quickly, people have come to rely on the magic tap.
Stage 1. Buy a barrell, and if you can’t find a barrel, get a big dustbin. Cut off the lowerpart of your drainpipe so that the barrell can fit under it. Wait for it to rain (that should take an hour or so). Watch your barrell fill. If you need a lot of water and have more than one drainpipe, get the appropriate amount of barrells and cut the appropriate amount of drainpipes to fit.
Stage 2 Water your lawn and wash your car (or farmyard) to your heart’s content.
Of course if you live in an apartment block you will have to get together with the other people in the block to get this facility. This used to be known as a meithal, or a coming together of neighbours in a common purpose.
This would be an ideal time to sing the old Harry Belafonte song:
1. There’s a hole in the bucket dear Lisa dear Lisa
there’s a hole in the bucket dear Lisa a hole.
2. Then mend it dear Henry dear Henry dear Henry
then mend it dear Henry dear Henry mend it!
(full lyrics here)