Ireland’s water infrastructure is still inadequately maintained – Engineers Ireland

25 Feb 2013

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, TD, at the launch of the Engineers Ireland report The State of Ireland 2013 - a review of infrastructure in Ireland

Engineers Ireland has today published the findings of its latest State of Ireland report that looks at the country’s infrastructural progress in the five areas of energy, transport, water, waste and communications. According to the body, the programme to install water meters in homes should begin in the next 12 months in order to tackle what it calls the country’s inadequately maintained water infrastructure.

The report, The State of Ireland 2013 – a review of infrastructure in Ireland, has been published to coincide with the start of Engineers Week, which will run until next Sunday. Up to 500 events will be taking place around Ireland this week to celebrate the world of engineering.

The report used a grading system to rate the five areas of energy, transport, water, waste and communications. No sector achieved an A grade, but communications ranked the highest, with a B+ mark. Waste received a B- grade, energy got a B grade, while water and transport were jointly ranked with a C grade.

Based on its analysis, Engineers Ireland found that the country’s communications and waste infrastructure have improved over the last year. However, the engineering body said Ireland struggles to meet peak demand in the area of transport, which it said needs significant investment. Turning to the country’s energy infrastructure, the body said this is being properly maintained but also requires investment.

According to the report, Ireland’s energy infrastructure should be supported by a review of the planning process to facilitate projects and secure energy availability. It also calls for further development of potential fossil fuel resources offshore and the fast tracking of the North-South interconnector.

In the area of transport, the report calls for an alternative to the recently shelved National Spatial Strategy. Engineers Ireland is also calling for a new ports policy and for investment in transport to be restored to at least 2012 levels.

Work on water infrastructure

The report points to how investment over the last decade has improved water quality but claims Ireland’s water infrastructure is still inadequately maintained.  

Engineers Ireland is calling for the start of water meter installations in homes in the next 12 months, as well as the inspection of registered domestic wastewater treatment systems.   

The report found that progress is being made in the waste industry towards using waste as a resource. However, the engineering body is calling for regulation to strengthen the waste collection permit system.   

As for communications, the report recommends the delivery of a transatlantic submarine cable to connect Ireland’s ‘dark fibre’ network.

In terms of broadband, Engineers Ireland says Ireland needs to achieve universal high-speed broadband by 2016 through the continued development of next-generation networks, as well as satellite-based access services.  

Speaking this morning, John Power, director-general of Engineers Ireland, acknowledged the country’s fiscal constraints but pointed to the need for prioritisation with respect to the report’s recommendations.  

“The reality is capital investment is vital to meet the Government’s desire to stimulate the economy. This report recognises the infrastructural challenges facing the country and sets out fundamental steps which should be taken to meet those challenges,” he said.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic