More people = More demand for fresh water
The amount of fresh water that is available to humans is actually quite limited and as the world population continues to increase the more stress that is placed on this precious resource:
- 97% of the water in the world is sea water and therefore not suitable for drinking. Approximately 2% of the water is held in ice. This leaves only 1% of the world’s water available for human consumption
It might be difficult to understand why we need to conserve water in Ireland, especially as we seem to have so much of it! But it is vital to conserve and protect the water we have, especially if we want our grandchildren to have clean, safe drinking water. The costs of providing clean water can be quite high and the process can be difficult to manage. This was evident when local water supplies in some parts of Ireland became polluted in 2007. It's surprising to know that the average daily water consumption per person in Ireland is over 148 litres! With impending water charges there are many ways that we can save money and reduce our water consumption by making small changes to our daily activities in the home and in the garden.
Where does our drinking water come from?
Water moves in a cycle from the earth to the air and back to the earth again in a process known as the water cycle: While on the earth, water for drinking comes from two sources:
1. Groundwater from underground aquifers
2. Surface water from streams, rivers or lakes Groundwater is pumped to the earth's surface from wells.
This water usually requires little treatment before drinking because it has already been filtered through sand and rock as it settles into the earth. Surface water requires filtration to remove any silt, sand or organic matter collected by the water as it moved from one area to another. Chemicals are added to speed up the process that nature uses to clean water.
All water in Ireland is either piped in from a local water supply or comes from an underground well. All of the water delivered to our homes is drinkable (potable)- even the water we use to flush our toilets and wash our clothes. Your Local Authority is responsible for water quality in your home, lakes, rivers and any other water bodies in the area. As water usage goes unchecked, there are more demands put on water treatment systems, as well as sources for municipal water supplies. By reducing the demand for water in our homes, the costs for water treatment will be less and there will be fewer threats to the natural water sources (lakes, rivers and underground aquifers) in our environment.
Some households get their water from wells. Usually, these households are sited too far from the public water supply and so need to source their water independently. The water in wells comes from underground aquifers. In a recent report released by the EPA, it was found that 57% of the groundwater samples taken were polluted. The less strain we put on the groundwater sources will result in less pollution and higher water-quality. Further information on water quality in Ireland can be found in the EPA's 2011 report on Water Quality in Ireland, 2007 - 2009.