Analysis of residential water consumption in Ireland and assessment
of public attitudes and behaviour towards water conservation.
Background:  Many parts of Ireland are currently and will increasingly be subject to the problem of dwindling water
supplies and escalating water demand, an issue exacerbated by rapid changes in demographic structure and climate
change.  Knowledge of domestic consumption patterns is well established particularly in developed nations following
implementation of domestic metering and charging over the last few decades. However, there is a paucity of baseline
information relating to water consumption patterns in Ireland particularly with regard to residential consumption as
the vast majority of households are neither metered nor charged for water. Furthermore, information regarding
domestic water usage behaviour and individuals’ attitudes towards water conservation is negligible yet it is
fundamental in establishing sustainable future water management policies as household usage accounts for 60% of
total water demand. This information is also vital in order to actively assess and target areas where considerable
savings can be achieved.  

Objectives: (1) Through the use of surveys and meter reading on a daily, fortnightly and seasonal basis establish
baseline data relating to residential water consumption patterns within Ireland and also the factors which influence
water demand.  (2) Obtain a detailed behavioural understanding of how water is used in the home, perceptions of
water usage and also assess the drivers and barriers to water conservation across metered and non-metered
households.  (3) Establish quantitative information regarding variances in water pricing and operational structures
across group water schemes and local authorities with a view to making recommendations towards effective
operation and pricing in light of proposed government plans to establish a national water authority.


Project: Assessment of variations in residential water consumption was undertaken through analysis of daily,
fortnightly and seasonal water usage patterns of metered group water scheme (GWS) households across Ireland.
Surveys of both GWS members and members of the general public were carried out to determine water usage
behaviour and attitudes towards water conservation. Additionally local authorities and group water schemes across
Ireland were surveyed so as to gain a detailed insight into the variation in operation and pricing structures employed.

Utilising usage patterns and attitudinal and behavioural results, assessments will be made as to where substantial
water savings can be achieved within the domestic sector.  Following the establishment of key drivers of water
demand and barriers to water conservation, this study will provide valuable information to assist in making informed
decisions about water management within the Irish residential sector with the aim of achieving sustainability of future
water supplies which is an imperative goal as required by the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC.


Publications:
Brady, J. and Gray, N.F. (2010)  Group water schemes in Ireland: Their role within the Irish water sector.  European
Water
, 29, 39-58. Link
Jennifer Brady
Centre for the Environment, TCD

contact:  jebrady@tcd.ie

Funded: Trinity College Dublin; Water Technology Research
Rural communities were served
by an extensive network of
community pumps.  These have
largely been replaced by
individual boreholes or group
water schemes.
 
Household water meters
are a common sight in rural
areas with Group water
Schemes normally
metered.  Universal
metering of all households
will begin in 2013
Open the inspection cover
and inside is the water
meter
Water Technology Research Group
Trinity College Dublin
  1980-2010 thirty years of research, training and consultancy