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Smart Energy Systems shortlisted for the 2012 Green Awards

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We are very pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted for the 2012 Green Awards in the Green Product category. The standard of entries is high with some very high profile organisations represented in the shortlist.   We would like to take this opportunity to wish all competitors the very best of luck. For a full list of award categories and the nominees visit www.greenawards.ie

The Green Awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainability and to encourage green best practice amongst Ireland’s organisations and individuals.

Smart Energy Systems entry into this competition is the retrofit Key-Waterless Urinal System®. This product fulfill one of  the key criteria of this award which is an effective replacement of a non-green traditional alternative. In this case we are replacing the need to flush urinals with huge volumes of water by converting existing urinal bowls to a waterless system with a key valve.

Water charges – toughest challenge this Government will face

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By Paul Melia Irish Independent

Tuesday March 20 2012

IT’s not just our health that will suffer if we don’t clean up our water. Thousands of jobs in IT, pharmaceuticals and the food and tourist businesses are at risk if we don’t improve quality and produce water on a par with the best in Europe.

Ireland faces a major challenge over the coming years. Water quality is improving, but hundreds of treatment plants across the State need to be upgraded.

And it’s going to be very expensive — experts say at least €500m is needed every year up to 2027 to meet EU targets on water quality.

Much of our economic success has come about because multinationals like Intel in Leixlip and Pfizer in Cork see Ireland as a place that can meet demand for clean, good quality water.

Coupled with our low corporation tax rates, it has enticed major employers in the IT, pharmaceutical and chemical industries here. If there’s any drop in quality they will go elsewhere, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

The Government also plans a major increase in food production, with the Food Harvest 2020 strategy planning to increase exports by 42pc by 2020. Food production is very water-intensive.

We all know about the drive for more tourists. Clean and green Ireland attracts anglers, walkers and families. Upset stomachs and putrid bathing waters won’t pull in the tourist euro.

A step in the right direction is to establish a single company, to be called Irish Water, to take control.

It will borrow money to build plants and upgrade the system, while also providing specialist careers in water management — expertise that could be later exported as the world grapples with water shortages.

The problem for the Government is how to pay for all the work. Ireland is one of the few EU countries without household water charges, meaning there is no incentive to reduce use.

There’s also no money in the kitty, meaning that even had the troika not insisted that domestic water charges be introduced, they probably would have happened anyway. But there’s a lack of certainty on how the system will work — how much ‘free’ water will be given? How much will people pay? What happens to those living in homes where a meter cannot be installed?

The international experience only tells us so much. Average daily cons-umption per adult in Ireland is 150 litres. The free allocation in Johannes-burg, South Africa, is 25 litres per day. In Flanders, it is 41 litres. Will we be somewhere in the middle?

The average household water bill in Scotland is £324 (€388 ) a year — just over €1 a day — but the Scots don’t have to grapple with a raft of stealth taxes introduced to help shore up creaking government coffers.

The introduction of household water charges from 2014 is among the toughest challenges this Government will face.

Everyone knows our water services are not up to scratch and will bitterly resent having to pay for a sub-standard service.

It’s for precisely these reasons that we’re going to have to start paying. If we don’t, we face the prospect of more health problems, and hi-tech companies moving elsewhere.

– Paul Melia.

Low Water Lunch Day on March 22nd

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Water and Food Security is the theme for International World Water Day 2012 and to celebrate An Taisce is organising a Low Water Lunch Day on March 22nd. Low Water Lunch Day is aimed at raising awareness on how much water we consume in our everyday food.

Green-Schools have put together fun and educational lesson plans, as well as useful posters and videos that will help you celebrate and participate in Low Water Lunch Day 2012. We’ve included a number of educational posters and videos that you may want to display around your school. Some of these are used in particular lesson plans. We’ve also included a list of very helpful websites.

You can access the Low Water Lunch Day 2012 Resource Park here.

Minister Criticised Over Septic Tank Bill

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Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív has criticised the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan for his total disregard for promises, procedures and for the public.

Deputy Ó Cuív explained: “In reply to a Parliamentary Question from me on 08 March 2012, Minister Hogan confirmed that he intends signing a Commencement Order for the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 in advance of commencing the registration system, which is expected to be operational in mid-April 2012.

“That fact that the Minister would do this after breaking his promise to publish the Draft Regulations on the maintenance and upgrade standards that will apply under this Act shows a total disregard for the people and an arrogance that is beyond belief.

“A number of weeks ago I was informed that the regulations under this Act would be published the following week. This is not the first time that totally incorrect information was given on the record of the Dáil. Instead of publishing the Draft Regulations, what was actually published was a woolly, fluffy document that will have absolutely no force of law.

“I am calling on Minister Hogan to defer commencement of the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012, until he has published the regulations outlining the standards of maintenance and operation of septic tanks, and these regulations are approved by Dáil Éireann. To do otherwise is to ask the people to buy a pig in a poke, and thousands of septic tank owners will refuse to register until this information is made available.

“The Minister has indicated that people will have one year from the time of the commencement of registration to register and I will be urging all septic tank owners to avail of this time to refuse to register until the Minister solves the outstanding issues in relation to this act. These relate to the inspection standards that will apply, the provision of grants to put septic tank owners on a par with urban dwellers, and the elimination of all registration and inspection charges as well as other vital issues.

“Minister Hogan’s refusal to adhere to Oireachtas procedures and facilitate a proper debate on this legislation is unprecedented. He does not seem to not understand that rural people are aware of the enormous consequences of this Act if all of the issues I have raised are not addressed.”                            Source:  build.ie/construction/news

 

 

Every drop counts. Irish supermarkets take note……

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J Sainsbury plc : Every drop counts.

On Monday 20th February, Sainsbury’s held a Corporate Responsibility dinner which focused on the water used by their suppliers and customers.

In Sainsbury’s stores, the greatest use of water is through flushing toilets and washing hands, followed closely by consumption in both customer cafes and colleague restaurants and then through the fresh food counters and bakeries. Water is also used for cleaning and watering plants in the landscaping around the store. Larger stores with petrol stations often have car washes and although these use significant amounts of water, the good news is that it’s recycled.

Whenever Sainsbury set about challenging themselves to make a reduction, they always start by making sure they are clear on how much water is used in the first place. This is important, as to make a saving you have to start by truly measuring what you use; this is where they have focused their efforts, by installing automatic meters and closely examining billed usage on a store by store basis.

Checking their water billing against automatic metering raised significant numbers of queries and led to quite a number of leaks being identified and stopped quickly. Sainsbury have established that the cost of fitting meters has been offset by the savings they have made from eliminating leaks.

Sainsbury also installed toilets that only flush 4.5 litres of the 6 litres in a cistern and they use a unique valve system that allowed them to install hygienic urinals that literally use no water at all.

Read full article here

WATER METERS ARE A NECESSITY

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It is all but certain that water meters will now be rolled out across the country over the next couple of years, and all I can say is, it’s not before time.

Can you imagine not having to pay for your Gas or Oil? Why should water be any different?

I only hope that the government set out a strategic road map for this project and ensure it is carried out correctly. Introducing a flat rate charge will not help water conservation or help identify the major leaks in the domestic connections, meters and data is the only way these can be identified and repaired.

Looking at other European Countries where water charges are in place its clear to see water charges help substantially reduce household water use. People would also be proactive in conservation methods, such as using Rain Water Butts for Harvesting Water and installing water saving products such as; water displacement devices, aerators, water saving shower heads, etc…

Water is precious so we need to look after it. Reduce and Recycle.

Summer Works Scheme 2011

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Summer Works Scheme 2011

The Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills is pleased to announce details of the Summer Works Scheme for 2011 and to invite applications under the Scheme in accordance with the terms of this Circular Letter.

The purpose of the Summer Works Scheme is to devolve funding to individual school authorities to undertake small-scale building works which, ideally, can be carried out during the summer months or at other times that avoid disrupting the operation of the school.  Under the terms of the Scheme, school authorities are empowered to manage these works with guidance from, and minimal interaction, with the Department.

Funding for small scale projects will be allocated in accordance with the prioritisation criteria attaching to the Scheme which, in the normal course, include the ability to have the works carried out during the summer.  However, in certain circumstances, the Department may allocate funding to further projects later in the year where these can be carried out without disruption to the operation of the school.  If this arises, the terms and conditions of the Scheme will continue to apply when allocating funding to such projects.

Under the 2011 Scheme, schools may apply for one small scale project only.

Details of the terms and conditions attaching to the application are contained in part 2 of this Circular Letter.
The closing date for receipt of all applications under this Scheme is 21 January 2011.

For full details click the link below

https://www.education.ie/home/home.jsp?pcategory=22132&ecategory=55796&language=EN

Water Metering, Water Bills and Water Conservation

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Non-Domestic Water Metering

Charges for water services differ between local authorities, depending on the cost of their capital (water services infrastructure) programmes, the cost of operating their treatment plants and the cost of administering the metering /billing elements of their programmes.

In accordance with government Water Pricing Policy, local authorities are identifying and metering all the non-domestic users of their water services.  Non-domestic supplies would include supplies for trades, industry and businesses, including agriculture, hotels, B&Bs and any other short-term accommodation, and also educational or sports facilities as well as hospitals or community or charitable services.  Customers’ bills are calculated by means of a metered charge based on the volume of water used. In most cases this charge includes for water supply and sewage collection and disposal, i.e., on the basis of the “water in/water out” principle. Where the installation of a meter is impracticable, local authorities can issue bills based on a fixed charge.  Where a meter measures both a non-domestic supply and a domestic (household) supply, credit will be given for the domestic element.

The metering of non-domestic water supply connections is considered to be a more equitable way for non-domestic customers to pay for water services.  Metering is also a useful tool in identifying leaks in the water piping system and thereby benefits water conservation.

The funding of domestic water services will continue through the Water Services Investment Programme for infrastructure projects and through the Local Government Fund for operational costs.

Domestic Water Metering

Following the phased installation of water meters, households will be charged for water services based on usage in line with the government commitment. .

The Department is currently examining the various options to ensure the delivery of the metering programme in the most cost effective manner, but it is expected that the roll-out of meters will begin next year.

“Water metering will be an absolutely essential element in ensuring that we get a water system that works, that is fair and  is sustainable in the long-term.

“The metering system will allow for much better network management by local authorities, and it should also help consumers adjust their consumption patterns,” Minister Gormley said.

“International experience of reductions in water consumption would indicate that there can be significant water savings arising from the installation of meters. A recent report for the UK Government found average savings of 16 per cent per household accrued from the installation of meters.”

As a result of water metering end users will then receive a water bill calculated by the volume of water that passes through the meter. The aim of this is that the people who use more, pay more. This should raise peoples awareness regarding how much water they use, and ultimately waste. This will encourage people to embrace water conservation which will have a positive effect on the environment.

Water saving 'poo-gloos' keep waste treatment facilities alive

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New igloo-like structures are appearing in waste treatment facilities in the US as their water saving abilities help to extend the lifespan of the installations.

The devices are an attempt to cope with areas where the local population has outgrown the sewage treatment capabilities.

Each dome contains multiple layers – like the skin of an onion – which increases the surface area that comes into contact with the water to be treated.

Useful bacteria can grow on this surface, consuming pollutants from the water at greater levels than might be achieved through mechanical means.

Normal water saving processes used in sewage farms involve mechanically agitating the water to encourage the removal of pollutants by bacteria.

However, the Bio-Domes – or ‘poo-gloos’ as they are nicknamed – offer an inexpensive way of achieving results that would normally cost millions of dollars.

Poo-gloo was the original name used to refer to the domes during development, but manufacturer Wastewater Compliance Systems says Bio-Dome “isn’t quite as fun; but it’s much more versatile”.

Avoiding the winter water crisis

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A year after our last water crisis, Ireland is struggling again with shortages and burst pipes. Yet not one kilometre of mains was replaced in Dublin in 2010. Only by spending heavily every year for a decade can we hope to fix our water infrastructure, writes FRANK McDONALD , Environment Editor

IT WILL take at least 10 years of sustained investment to replace or rehabilitate the decaying or substandard water mains that have burst in Dublin and elsewhere over the past fortnight, depriving thousands of people of one of the basic necessities of life during the Christmas holidays.

As Dublin City Council’s chief engineer, Michael Phillips, said this time last year when another rapid thaw caused similar difficulties, “there is no magic wand we can wave” to solve the problem. Much depends on the political priorities of the next government.

Given that domestic water charges are not due to be implemented until 2014, as pledged in the present Government’s recovery programme, hundreds of millions of euro in public money will have to be found over the next three years to pay for the work that needs to be done.

In Dublin, the demand for water surged to 610Ml – that’s megalitres, or 610 million litres in plain language – on St Stephen’s Day and 625Ml the following day. “This was by far the highest two-day demand we ever had,” says the council’s chief sanitary-services engineer, Brian Smyth. “We lost 130Ml from storage, just like that, and we’re still trying to recover.”

“It was as if someone had pulled a plug at the reservoirs,” says the Fingal county manager, David O’Connor. This unprecedented level of water loss happened even though all schools and many businesses were closed for the Christmas holidays.

What aggravated the problem was the extraordinary speed of the thaw after such a prolonged cold spell. Temperatures in some parts of the country rose from minus 15 degrees to plus 10 in just 36 hours.

Ground movements caused by the freeze and rapid thaw led to water mains and service pipes bursting, according to Gerry Galvin, the principal engineering adviser for water at the Department of the Environment. Many household connections were also affected, mainly because they had not been laid deep enough.

“Since the late 1970s building regulations have required all services to be protected from the elements, with pipes to all new houses laid a minimum of 600mm below the surface,” he says.

Many of the leaks arose in unattended commercial premises, which is why appeals were made to keyholders to carry out urgent checks. “More than 5,000 leaks were repaired over the past week throughout the country, ranging from small leaks to burst mains,” Galvin says.

“In most areas supply has been restored, even at low pressure and with night-time restrictions as local authorities continue to replenish depleted reservoirs.”

Co Clare was the “worst affected” this week. The duration of cuts will vary until reservoirs are full again, he adds.

Last April, Minister for the Environment John Gormley published details of a new water services investment programme worth €1.5 billion over the three years from 2010 to 2012. Of the total, €320 million was earmarked for the replacement or rehabilitation of defective or leaking water mains. “This will replace about 600km of the worst mains,” says Galvin. “But it’s going to take a considerable length of time sustaining the same level of investment if the problem is to be solved.” His own estimate is that just dealing with the worst mains will take 10 years.

The problem for this country is that our low population density means we have an awful lot of water mains – 25,000km in all, more per 1,000 people than any other European country. “Barcelona, with three times Dublin’s population, has only 4,500km of water main, compared to 8,000km in Dublin.”

To avail of the latest tranche of funding, each local authority with responsibility for water had to submit a “mains replacement and rehabilitation strategy [to the department], in order to ensure that we’re getting the best bang for our buck”, as Galvin puts it.

Dublin City Council is ahead of the posse because it put in place telemetry systems and district meter areas, which allow it to target mains for the best returns. (Telemetry systems allow workers to monitor water systems remotely.) As a result, “in the next two years, 100km of mains will be replaced” in the city and its water region.

According to the council, levels of leakage in the region have been reduced from 43 per cent in the late 1990s to about 30 per cent. Since 2006, however, only 60km of defective water mains have been replaced – 10 per cent of the total needing renewal.

Not a single kilometre of leaky mains was replaced in Dublin last year, despite last January’s water crisis. Work is due to start shortly on rehabilitation schemes in Dún Laoghaire, Bray and Wicklow under three separate contracts, and two further tenders will close next month. As a result the length of mains replaced or rehabilitated is expected to increase to 115km by the end of this year.

Projects to renew a further 165km are “sitting on the shelf ready to go as soon as we get a nod from the department,” says Smyth.

In the past most of the emphasis in successive water-investment programmes was on water and sewage treatment schemes, driven by a legal requirement to meet the terms of EU water-quality directives. This meant that water-main renewal was virtually neglected.

AFTER REVELATIONS THAT the leakage rate in some counties, such as Roscommon, Kilkenny and south Tipperary, was more than 50 per cent, compared with less than 20 per cent in south Dublin, John Gormley decided to “make it a priority after years of underinvestment”. The programme he launched last April would provide “record levels of investment in both overall water infrastructure and, in particular, mains rehabilitation”.

He also dismisses Fine Gael’s proposal for a national water authority, pointing to the experience of Northern Ireland Water, which has been criticised for leaving thousands without supplies over Christmas.

On Thursday, after a lengthy board meeting and consultations between lawyers, it was announced that Northern Ireland Water’s Scottish-born chief executive, Laurence MacKenzie, was stepping down after 18 months in office. It was said to be a personal decision. Nonetheless, as the publicly-owned company’s website says, MacKenzie was “responsible for the overall performance of Northern Ireland Water”.

That’s not how it turned out. Over a three-day period after Christmas, Northern Ireland Water was bombarded with 600,000 phone calls, 10,000 e-mails and 500,000 hits on its website from customers who had been left in the lurch. An independent investigation has been ordered. A six-hour meeting of the Stormont Executive on Thursday night agreed that the inquiry will look into the performance both of the company and of Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy, of Sinn Féin, during the crisis. Murphy has rejected calls that he should resign.

Gerry Galvin says Northern Ireland Water “didn’t have the resources to draw on to fix leaks whereas councils here were able to redeploy staff from other departments to help with this work”. It also seems that there was a “water production problem” in the North.

He also points out that privatised utilities in Britain, including Anglian Water, Yorkshire Water, Scottish Water and Welsh Water, all had similar problems to ours. “I’ve looked up all their websites – it’s just that they didn’t receive as much media coverage,” he says.

Galvin says the €4.6 billion invested in Irish water infrastructure between 2000 and 2009 “compares very favourably with the UK”, where €90 billion worth of investment was made by British water companies, given the difference in scale between the two countries.

One issue on which Gormley is clear is that any proposal to set up a privatised national water utility here “has to be resisted tooth and nail”. The idea of “making money out of it should be anathema to right-thinking people”.