Water, water everywhere…for now.

26 Jul


After a great stretch of good weather Ireland is back to it’s more usual Summer weather.  Rain showers interspersed with sunny periods. Life is back to normal…gardens are watered from the sky and all is fresh and green again. It did amuse me that after 15 days without rain a drought was declared. In a country with such high rainfall I find that odd. How come we have such low reserves of water?


I lived the first 10 years of my life living in a house that didn’t have piped water. We had a pump in the yard which supplied all our water. Beautiful clear spring water came from the pump after a few up and downs of the handle. As children it was our job to bring water into the house in buckets.  Most of our neighbours at that time would have been the same so we saw nothing wrong with it. It did however give me a deep appreciation of water. It is something I do not waste. It is a treasure without which life on this planet could not continue.


Listening to the radio a few days ago Duncan Stewart…eco archicect, environmentalist and broadcaster…presented a few interesting statistics about water:

Ireland imports 4.5 billion cubic metres of bottled water every year. In a land of rivers and springs I find that very strange. Think of all the plastic bottles required. Of course plastic comes from oil so that’s a huge contribution to oil consumption.

70% of Irish food is imported. This has huge implications for water consumption as a lot of food is produced in water stressed regions of the world such as the Middle East and North Africa. Israeli food crops are often produced on settled territories  using water which  rightly belongs to Palestine. An ethical dilemma we must all judge with our buying choices.

A power shower uses 150 litres of water in 5 minutes. No comparison was given with an ordinary shower but I assume the difference would be substantial.

40% of our piped water is lost through leaks in the system. Surely it would make sense to rectify that before looking to other solutions?

There was a lot more in the discussion but those were the main ones that struck me.


Something which has struck me recently is how the rain in Ireland has changed. From mostly soft light showers it has changed to heavy, monsoon like downpours. Climate change has given us even more rain! For me the irony is what happens to this large amount of water? Of course a certain amount falls on land and bodies of water but rain that falls on buildings is usually directed into the sewerage systems. What a waste! All that lovely water from the sky is immediately contaminated in the sewers. Surely it would make sense to collect this water for use in the public supply systems?


Two nights ago in Dublin there was torrential rain. Houses and businesses were flooded because the sewer couldn’t cope with the extra water. At present there is a plan to build a huge water reservoir in the Midlands to supply our capital city with water.  There’s also been murmurings about bringing water from the Shannon. Meanwhile untold amounts of water are flowing into the sewers. Surely it would be more cost effective to divert this water into reservoirs or other storage systems.?

We are lucky enough to have our own well supplying the house here in Lurgan. However we also collect water from the roof in a series of barrels at every corner of the house. This water is used to water the garden and polytunnel. Washing up is only done once a day. Dishes are piled neatly and all washed up in one go in the evening.  I hate to see people washing a cup under a running tap. Wasteful!

In the middle of all this water dilemna we have our government debating whether they will allow hydraulic fracking to proceed in Ireland. A process that uses millions of litres of water for every frack.  Not to mention what to do with all the resulting polluted water. Crazy!!

Water is a finite resource…all the water that will ever be is already on the planet.

“I believe water will be the defining crisis of our century, the main vehicle through which climate change will be felt…from droughts, storms, and floods to degrading water quality. We’ll see major conflicts over water; water refugees. We inhabit a water planet, and unless we protect, manage, and restore that resource, the future will be a very different place from the one we imagine today.”

Alexandra Cousteau

“Water is the driving force in nature.” Leonardo da Vinci.

“We never know the worth of water till the well runs dry.” Thomas Fuller.

39 Responses to “Water, water everywhere…for now.”

  1. adithyaentertainment July 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Reblogged this on Adithya Entertainment.

  2. gardendaze July 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    It is just the same here–very rarely do we have gentle rains. Everything seems to be torrential downpours and monsoons. Yesterday on part of my state had 5″ of rain in such a short period of time that cars were floating away.

    Luckily my state isn’t talking about fracking yet by neighboring ones are so perhaps it’s just a matter of time. Craziness.


    • bridget July 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      Fracking is the greatest madness going on on the planet at the moment. At a time when water is becoming a huge issue they want to contaminate endless amounts in the pursuit of gas. Seems crazy to me.

      • Small House Under a Big Sky August 8, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

        So true, Bridgette. we are fighting fracking here in Michigan, though I am afraid it is coming. Permits have been given out by the DNR 8 miles from my home. I am sick!!! I live in a rural area of MI where some land owners are selling mineral rights for fracking. I am totally opposed as are many!! But unfortunately people want to drive their cars and maintain their lifestyles and that means they need gas. I am willing to severely cut back my usage, and already have, but many must get to work and because jobs are so few here the average drive to work is an hour or more. It’s a real dilemma…

      • bridget August 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

        The thought of fracking starting in Ireland scares me. Last week they have started test fracking in Sussex, England. There is a lot of public opposition but still it seems to be given the green light from the UK government. Licences have also been given for parts of Northern Ireland which is of course under the jurisdiction of the English govt. Worrying times indeed…

  3. Eco Farm Gal July 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Bridget, this is such a timely, informative and thoughtful post! Your ideas about waste and lack of basic common sense about the use of water echo what I have felt for years. Since we know how precious and vital a resource water is for our very survival, why do we flush it away with waste, let our sewage runoff pollute the oceans, rivers and lakes????
    The quote by Alexandra Cousteau touched me and resonated strongly in my own being. We simply must do a better job of catching rainwater, planting “water gardens”, keeping cisterns (as they have done in the Florida Keys for a couple hundred years) for our use during drought and conserving every drop of water we can. A large part of this effort can go to planting edible gardens instead of grass lawns that require ridiculous amounts of petro-chemicals and watering.
    We have also been experiencing torrential rains and flooding over the past month and mold is growing where I’ve never seen it before. The runoff water is contaminating the ocean with toxics and contributes to red tide, an algae bloom that takes all the oxygen out of the water and kills fish and sea life. It is criminally stupid, in my view, to let this happen when simple planning and very easy, basic systems could be put in place with little expense and greater self-sufficiency.
    Thanks so much for your insight!

    • bridget July 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      Good to know that there is common sense in Florida regarding the water. Should be mandatory everywhere on the planet. So much rain in Ireland and very little of it saved.

  4. Kathryn Marsh July 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    That really was a good piece by Duncan Stewart wasn’t it – the downpour two nights ago triggered my own water piece for the Dublin Informer, and when I’d finished writing I went outside to pick raspberries and found the storm had brought a big willow tree down into the fruit cage. Sheer weight of water on the leaves I suspect. I really miss our old “soft days” when the rain fell gently and steadily. Like you I’ve a rain barrel on every down pipe and it was enough to take me through all the necessary – as against unnecessary – watering until the storm refilled them all two nights ago. I can’t bring myself to ever use mains water for things like watering or washing the car

    • bridget July 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

      If only more people thought like that. All would be well…better anyway. Most people are just consumers really, once it’s there at their fingertips they don’t think beyond that. Such apathy! Was shocked at the stats on imported water.

  5. pianolearner July 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Lots of fracking going on over here. When will we learn?

    • bridget July 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      When indeed! Probably when it’s too late…

  6. Christina July 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Great post. We also have all our water from a well, but it is deep so has a huge pump to bring the water up, so I am very much aware of how much I use in every way. As you suggest mending the pipes that leak ought to be a major political objective (40% loss is huge). As too bottles water I read that one plastic bottle takes THREE litres of water to make – somehitng is wrong somewhere.

    • bridget July 26, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

      That’s mad…just does’nt make sense. But then so much does’nt make sense these days. I never, ever buy water, if going somewhere I just fill a bottle from the tap. A lot of the bottled water is no better or even worse than what comes out of the tap.

  7. Jane July 26, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Just wondering (with horror) how much water golf courses use in hot summer climates like ours.
    Jane x

    • Eco Farm Gal July 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      There are over a hundred golf courses where I live. And there are miles and miles of median strip planting and roadside plantings as well as part of the “beautification” of an already beautiful place. Even though they water with (mostly) un-potable water, it is still a staggering amount of water! I read that the cost to plant and maintain the median “gardens” is $1 million per mile. Yes, you read that right. It’s totally insane to waste precious natural and financial resources this way when there is a huge homeless population just a few miles away, struggling to survive. Would that politicians develop a heart and give millions of dollars to the shelters, food pantries and social service agencies and the water to growing actual food. Is that too much to ask??

      • Jane July 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

        Utter madness.
        Jane x

      • bridget July 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

        Definitely a case of the lunatics running the asylum…

  8. Kevin July 26, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    A completely thoughtful, sensitive post. I think it should be required reading! Our heat wave has also ended, and I suspect the cold, damp weather that is now here is very similar to your weather. Just as similar is the talk of fracking. There is so much that makes no sense. Thank you for this post.

    • bridget July 26, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

      It seems that exploitation of our planet is the be all and end all of the greedy corporations that our governments are hand in glove with.

  9. wildsherkin July 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    Hi Bridget, a great post. The bottled water stats are incredible. The world is definitely going mad.

    • bridget July 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      I know! It completely blew my mind…also Ireland’s 70% food imports.

  10. Anne Wilson July 26, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Having lived in Spain on a finca with no water we know what a precious commodity it is, we had to collect water from the nearest village supply (4 miles away) in 1000lt containers, we found that we could live comfortably on 1000lt every ten days, we had showers every day but found you get just as clean soaping first and then a quick dive under the shower to rinse, washing up was done once a day, and still is, all grey water was diverted to water the veg plot, taps never left running to clean teeth and toilet only flushed when needed. We are now on mains water which for most of the time has a boiled water notice on it so we cant drink it, clean our teeth in it or prepare salads in it, for this they are planning to charge us 300 euros a year! Now we have bought five 1000lt containers and we will be relying on rain water for our needs, we already have to use it to make tea or coffee as with the stuff that comes out of the taps it is impossible to make a good cuppa. Who knows, we might strike lucky and find we have water on our land somewhere when we have done a bit of water divining.

    • bridget July 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      The whole Boyle area has been on a boil water notice for months now. Several people had to be hospitalised. And for this people are expected to pay. Seems like people should be suing them. I’m so glad we have a well here. It was one of our criteria when looking for a house. Would be great if you could find water on your place. Water will be the liquid gold of the future.

  11. SmallHouseBigGarden July 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    This was a most interesting post. My daughter’s fiance is an irishman. He grew up in Dublin and came to the states 4 years ago. (he’s now 25) I’m emailing this to my daughter to show him. I’m sure they’ll both find it as informative as I did!

    • bridget July 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Thanks for spreading the word…

  12. Donna@Gardens Eye View July 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Water has returned here as well…it is so refreshing.

    • bridget July 28, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      The rain does keep everything fresh and green.

  13. David Marsden July 28, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    We had our first rain in about six weeks here in Sussex. Glorious thunderstorm last night with forked lightening. I read that when the old water boards were privatised here in the UK the new water companies closed and filled in several reservoirs. There’s long term planning for you. Dave

    • bridget July 28, 2013 at 8:03 am #

      Are’nt they trying to start test fracking in Sussex at the moment. I’ve been reading about the demos there. That uses vast amounts of water. Crazy that reservoirs were filled in…very short sighted.

    • Kathryn Marsh July 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

      Far be it from me to sound like a spokesman for Thames Water, who have to be one of the less customer friendly, even among British water companies, but in their defence what they closed (and sold to developers for billions) were storage facilities for treated water, and they replaced them with bigger ones in places where the land was cheaper. It would have been nice if they’d spent the profits on further improving the network instead of handing it straight to their shareholders in dividends

      • bridget July 28, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

        It would indeed but it’s all about the profit nowadays.

  14. Promenade Claire July 28, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    I can see how drawing your own water would give you a great sense of preciousness about water – how special it is and that it isn’t a resource that is endless. My travels in India showed me how fortunate I am – to be able to turn the tap on and have water that won’t potentially make me ill. I realise the water is treated, that there are leaks in the system, but at the same time I realise how very fortunate I am to have water and a tap.

    • bridget July 29, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      At least you have an appreciation for clean water from your tap. Most people don’t have any idea how lucky they are and just expect the water to keep on flowing.

  15. ihealthnut July 29, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Wow! That is one amazing garden! Just wanted to share http://68anda6pack.com/2013/07/12/forking-good-exercise/ for some general gardening tips! The blog writer also has a dog! Haha! A collie named Maudy. I think you’ll have a fun time reading! Great post and more power! I’ll make sure to like and follow.

  16. ihealthnut July 29, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    The pictures are really nice. I don’t know why but it evokes a really nice emotion from me. It really gives me more appreciation for the beauty of nature. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to more of this wonderful photos!!!

  17. Mizz Winkens August 2, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Hi Bridget, I was only bemoaning the leaky water systems in this country the other day. Once again you are highlighting a hugely important issue that most folk never give a second thought to- fresh drinking water is not a sustainable resource and needs to be managed responsibly. k

  18. Dee Sewell August 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    Good post Bridget and always enjoy listening to Duncan Stewart, he’s such a gentleman. I wrote a similar post a couple of years ago with the same title coincidentally and as time has passed it’s more important than ever to mind the resources so many take for granted.

    • bridget August 5, 2013 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks Dee! I do find the apathy in our country so very disheartening. We can only do our bit and try to raise awareness of these issues.

  19. Small House Under a Big Sky August 8, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    I appreciated reading your post on water in Ireland. I am always interested in how the water situation is in different parts of the world. Here in the US in Michigan water is pretty plentiful. We are very lucky that we are The Great Lakes States. At The Small House we are fortunate to live on 5-acres with well water that is abundant and fresh but I still am very, very careful with water, collecting rain water off the pole barn roof and reusing all water that I can. I personally believe that clean potable water is such a precious commodity and not to be taken for granted. As an environmentalist I am aware that 60% of the world potable water is contaminated and that as a world we are heading for trouble. The science I read is that we are likely to run short of potable water in approx. 30 to 40 years. I find this very scary. We have purchased two 250 gallon IBC totes to capture water off our pole barn roof to have for our gardens. We are currently buying the parts (wood and plastic pipes with each paycheck) and hope to have this connected up soon. I’ll be writing about it on my blog. Thanks so much for being a follower! Small House / Big Sky Donna

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