Water tight 2012
The top issues in the global water sector
Following on from our ‘Energy Predictions 2012 ’ Thought Leadership circulated in January 2012, Deloitte have prepared ‘Water Tight 2012’ to examine the top issues in the global water sector.
The growing demand for water is making conservation and efficient use central issues, particularly as governments, utilities and the private sector come under increasing pressure to be stewards of this precious and shared resource.
To date, Ireland remains one of the few countries in the world that provides water free of charge to domestic users. Access to water for domestic usage is considered a basic human right, with many users regarding water as a free resource. In contrast to this, NewERA calculates that €700m (excluding capital expenditure) is spent annually to produce clean drinking water in Ireland. In addition, significant capital expenditure is required, €4.9bn is budgeted, to upgrade Ireland’s water infrastructure as currently around 43% of water is wasted through leakages in this water system.
Although water covers 70 per cent of the earth’s surface, less than 0.5 per cent of the world’s water is available for human and animal use in the form of fresh surface and ground water. While at this moment in time Ireland’s water supply is considered abundant, ageing infrastructure in conjunction with the effects of population growth, increasing energy consumption and climate change could dramatically impact the availability of water in both the short and long term. Many people in Ireland will be aware that in the past year we have seen water supply disrupted country wide, with local authorities warning of water shortages because of dwindling reservoir supplies and burst pipes due to the harsh weather.
With water metering for domestic users due to be operational in Ireland by 2014, the recent focus in the press demonstrates the emotive nature of this topic both as a result of the current economic difficulties and the fear of being “cut-off” if you cannot afford the payments. With the announcement last week that Irish Water will fall under Bord Gais Eireann’s responsibility, it will be vital think through the pricing strategy to reflect the issue of growing demand and diminishing supply. As a consequence, households in Ireland will need to become ever more cognisant of their water consumption and businesses in Ireland will need to better understand their dependence on water and how they can improve their water footprint.
In this report, you will find an examination of how major global trends such as population growth, increasing economic development and urbanisation, coupled with the changes in climate patterns, underscore the importance of effective public policy and private sector water stewardship in managing this finite and shared resource. As Ireland moves through this period of change in its water policy – beginning with the change in the management of its water assets – it will be important to leverage from experiences around the globe in order to implement this effectively.