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Infrastructure and Water (see warning in post #1)

  • 24-07-2017 9:32pm
    #1
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    I wonder how many of those complaining about the burst water pipe were the ones campaigning against water charges?

    Mod: Warning - this is to just discuss the water infrastructure deficit shown by the leak in Drogheda.



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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,364 ✭✭✭✭ road_high


    I wonder how many of those complaining about the burst water pipe were the ones campaigning against water charges?

    Exact same ones- their latest angle on Facebook is the "gubberment spent 2 billion (?) on IW so far and not replaced a single pipe..."
    oh and "we already pay through general taxation"...you know the script by now ;)


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,188 ✭✭✭ lucernarian


    I wonder how many of those complaining about the burst water pipe were the ones campaigning against water charges?
    That strikes me as unvarnished schadenfreude. Plenty of people affected by the Drogheda supply rupture would have paid water bills prior to this, and even those who protested water charges wouldn't have supported or wanted this outcome. Or, dare I say it, deserved this outcome.

    The issue has also barely garnered a mention on the forum despite the severity and extent of it. A real discussion needs to be had on water infrastructure and the protection of it, beyond just the Shannon to Dublin pipeline. What lessons have been learned from 2010 or the vartry pipeline issues?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,023 ✭✭✭ Donegal Storm


    That strikes me as unvarnished schadenfreude. Plenty of people affected by the Drogheda supply rupture would have paid water bills prior to this, and even those who protested water charges wouldn't have supported or wanted this outcome. Or, dare I say it, deserved this outcome.

    The issue has also barely garnered a mention on the forum despite the severity and extent of it. A real discussion needs to be had on water infrastructure and the protection of it, beyond just the Shannon to Dublin pipeline. What lessons have been learned from 2010 or the vartry pipeline issues?

    The thing is though people are totally oblivious to the amount of investment we actually need in our water infrastructure. People say we already pay for it with general taxation, well yeah we pay enough to just about keep the existing system creaking along!

    Bursts are inevitable no matter how much we spend so I wouldn't put any direct blame on the current situation but hopefully it'll shine a light on the ageing network and maybe make people realise how vital it is that we invest properly.

    Thankfully wastewater has started to see more investment in the past couple of years but there's a long, long way to go to get our network up to scratch. That's before you even look at replacing long distance trunk mains and whatnot


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    Deedsie wrote: »
    These are the things that motivated people into action. Higher spending for improved efficiency would be great and no one would object to that really. That is not what Irish water offered the way it was set up.

    It may have motivated a few but a very large number of the protesters were available 24/7 to protest and block installations. Make of that what you like but I know I was in work during all but the weekend protests


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,188 ✭✭✭ lucernarian


    The thing is though people are totally oblivious to the amount of investment we actually need in our water infrastructure. People say we already pay for it with general taxation, well yeah we pay enough to just about keep the existing system creaking along!

    Bursts are inevitable no matter how much we spend so I wouldn't put any direct blame on the current situation but hopefully it'll shine a light on the ageing network and maybe make people realise how vital it is that we invest properly.

    Thankfully wastewater has started to see more investment in the past couple of years but there's a long, long way to go to get our network up to scratch. That's before you even look at replacing long distance trunk mains and whatnot
    The arrangement for water supply in Drogheda has remained more or less as-is since the 70s after asking around, and certainly nothing significant changed during the Celtic tiger years. Wastewater treatment improved dramatically but that is another story. The point I'm making is that it's unfair to drag up water charges when the circumstances that led to this terrible outage predate even the scrapping of rates.

    I can't help but wonder if more attention would have been paid if it was in other cities or e.g. one of the Dublin suburbs like Dun Laoghaire. What's happening right now could worse than the Galway cryptosporidium outbreak in terms of potential economic damage, though I hope the burst won't additionally trigger a subsequent boil notice.

    Burst pipes are inevitable, the decommissioning of resovoirs a few weeks before this pipe burst, is certainly not. I really resent the pious muttering over water charges. It's a spectacular cock-up on Irish Water's part. They closed the main alternative supply for operational reasons and now it lies unused while this debacle carries on.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ Chuchote


    A few years a series of radio programmes - by Boucher-Hayes maybe? - examined various polluted water systems around the country. At the time, the programme said that the Dublin councils simply refused to declare what level of pollution was in their water.

    We need investment in a good water system, and we have to pay taxes for it, but fairly, and not to a private company.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    I think IW needs to try and build a network so individual pipes are not of such vital importance that a single break can cause such massive disruption. I hope they have better emergency plans for other areas in cases like this.

    It was said by IW on the radio this morning that it operated at six times the normal pressure for a water pipe. How can that be?

    How does a single pipeline that can fail so catastrophically fit in with the Limerick to Dublin feeder water pipe?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    I think IW needs to try and build a network so individual pipes are not of such vital importance that a single break can cause such massive disruption. I hope they have better emergency plans for other areas in cases like this.

    It was said by IW on the radio this morning that it operated at six times the normal pressure for a water pipe. How can that be?

    How does a single pipeline that can fail so catastrophically fit in with the Limerick to Dublin feeder water pipe?


    IW can barely afford a bottle of water let alone a repairing the current network and that's before we even consider improving it


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    I was surprised at the display on TV reports at the 'first world' problems displayed by those who had their water supplies cut off. One guy was filling his toilet cistern with water so he could flush it. (Had he not heard of a chamber pot)

    Or the ones that could not manage without a dishwasher - or a washing machine - I have at least a weeks worth of clothes before I would need to use a laundry service (that is - my washing machine).

    People need to learn survival techniques.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,023 ✭✭✭ Donegal Storm


    IW can barely afford a bottle of water let alone a repairing the current network and that's before we even consider improving it

    I've read somewhere that we need 10bn in investment to get the network to where it ideally should be, I think it's safe to say that's not going to happen.

    50% of treated water is lost before it even reaches our taps though so the amount of money we're hemorrhaging through inaction must be massive. Hopefully this incident will put more political pressure on but with all the PR disasters IW have had I can't see the government suddenly handing them anything more than crumbs


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ Chuchote


    Shout-out for dishwashers, however: they use less water than handwashing dishes, and use it more efficiently.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Chuchote wrote: »
    Shout-out for dishwashers, however: they use less water than handwashing dishes, and use it more efficiently.

    But they are not much use if there is no electricity or if there is no water. Using less water than washing by hand might be important if you pay for water or if you have to carry it in a bucket - but even then, bucket fed dishwashers have yet to be invented.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,995 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Chuchote wrote: »
    Shout-out for dishwashers, however: they use less water than handwashing dishes, and use it more efficiently.

    I have always wondered though, they clearly use more electricity then cold hand washing?

    But what about washing in hot water heated by gas boiler?


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,188 ✭✭✭ lucernarian


    I was surprised at the display on TV reports at the 'first world' problems displayed by those who had their water supplies cut off. One guy was filling his toilet cistern with water so he could flush it. (Had he not heard of a chamber pot)

    Or the ones that could not manage without a dishwasher - or a washing machine - I have at least a weeks worth of clothes before I would need to use a laundry service (that is - my washing machine).

    People need to learn survival techniques.
    So the answer to these infrastructural defects and organizational incompetence includes a) buying more clothes and b) chamber pots to be emptied... In the river? On the street? And c) eat less so there's fewer dishes to be washed with the 5 litres of water you got from the council.

    Not what I thought this thread was about.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    So the answer to these infrastructural defects and organizational incompetence includes a) buying more clothes and b) chamber pots to be emptied... In the river? On the street? And c) eat less so there's fewer dishes to be washed with the 5 litres of water you got from the council.

    Not what I thought this thread was about.

    I am highlighting the pathetic reporting by the media - concentrating on people who cannot solve their own problems.

    The news should be highlighting the pathetic response to the level of threat we face due to the appalling under-investment in infrastructure, and in particular, water infrastructure.

    Where are the single point failure risks? What can be done to mitigate them? I do not get the impression IW are up to speed. The local authorities should have been left in control for much longer.

    Water is only half the problem. Waste water is the other part of the problem.

    Waste water spilling into Kilkee beach. How much more risk on the foul water system? Have they fixed the Ringend treatment plant that stank out Sandymount and Ringsend?

    Are they in control?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,781 ✭✭✭ Carawaystick


    I'm not sure why one piece of infrastructure cannot be funded by taxation when health, defense, policing, roads, education is?
    What's so magic about water that it needs a regressive method of funding, rather than progressive taxation?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 18,277 ✭✭✭✭ Lionel Handsome Tenure


    I'm not sure why one piece of infrastructure cannot be funded by taxation when health, defense, policing, roads, education is?
    What's so magic about water that it needs a regressive method of funding, rather than progressive taxation?

    The pot of gold is finite.
    Taking water out of the pot and creating it's own little pot for repair/ upgrading was the progressive way of doing it, much like most other countries do.
    I was paying water charges the UK in the 80's. It was considered a normal thing to do!

    Of course , it also leaves more money in the pot for other services as well.


  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,214 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CatInABox


    I'm not sure why one piece of infrastructure cannot be funded by taxation when health, defense, policing, roads, education is?
    What's so magic about water that it needs a regressive method of funding, rather than progressive taxation?

    Also, a flat tax isn't progressive, it's regressive. Someone who is filling their two swimming pools in their 15 bathroom mansion currently pays the same level as someone that only has one bathroom.

    It's far more progressive to charge based upon usage in the case of water. Those that use it the most should pay the most. There should be exceptions and exemptions for certain families that have special needs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,474 ✭✭✭ Lu Tze


    I think IW needs to try and build a network so individual pipes are not of such vital importance that a single break can cause such massive disruption. I hope they have better emergency plans for other areas in cases like this.
    Its a trunk main transferring water from the water treatment plant to the distribution network. If the break occurred in the distirbution network, it would only effect a small area, and potenitally could be isolated to impact a smaller area. The break on the trunk main cuts supply to the entire distribution network.

    Contingency could be provided in the form of a second trunk main, the same size - in essence near doubling the material costs.
    It was said by IW on the radio this morning that it operated at six times the normal pressure for a water pipe. How can that be?

    Its pumped - thats why it has higher pressure.
    How does a single pipeline that can fail so catastrophically fit in with the Limerick to Dublin feeder water pipe?

    I would guess this will have large storages built in to the system (allowing the shutdown for several days on individual sections without interrupting supply), or possibly a contingency pipe and pump system along side the operating one.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Lu Tze wrote: »
    Its a trunk main transferring water from the water treatment plant to the distribution network. If the break occurred in the distirbution network, it would only effect a small area, and potenitally could be isolated to impact a smaller area. The break on the trunk main cuts supply to the entire distribution network.

    Contingency could be provided in the form of a second trunk main, the same size - in essence near doubling the material costs.



    Its pumped - thats why it has higher pressure.



    I would guess this will have large storages built in to the system (allowing the shutdown for several days on individual sections without interrupting supply), or possibly a contingency pipe and pump system along side the operating one.

    According to the IW spokesman, there is only one pipe like the one that fractured in Ireland or the UK - it is the one that fractured. It operates at 15 bar which to me sounds very high, and it is 8 inch which to me sounds tiny. It is of a type that has been obsolete for thirty years. The pipe was sending water from the Boyne to the Saleen treatment pipe - that is not treated water..

    The backup to that pipe would be provided by either storage near the Saleen Water Treatment plant before the distribution point, or a second pipe coming from a second processing plant. They shut down a smaller plant in Drogheda recently I believe.

    The same pipe failed last year. The pipe is made of asbestos cement and is distorted in the ground (ovoid - acording to the spokes quoted above). I would have thought it was obviously a weak link in the distribution system in Co. Louth.

    IW should do better. See this.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    IW should do better. See this.

    Better with what capital?


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Better with what capital?

    Well, where the money comes from is a political decision. Ask the politicians - or the protesters.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,023 ✭✭✭ Donegal Storm


    According to the IW spokesman, there is only one pipe like the one that fractured in Ireland or the UK - it is the one that fractured. It operates at 15 bar which to me sounds very high, and it is 8 inch which to me sounds tiny. It is of a type that has been obsolete for thirty years. The pipe was sending water from the Boyne to the Saleen treatment pipe - that is not treated water..

    The backup to that pipe would be provided by either storage near the Saleen Water Treatment plant before the distribution point, or a second pipe coming from a second processing plant. They shut down a smaller plant in Drogheda recently I believe.

    The same pipe failed last year. The pipe is made of asbestos cement and is distorted in the ground (ovoid - acording to the spokes quoted above). I would have thought it was obviously a weak link in the distribution system in Co. Louth

    8 inch trunk main? That can't be right surely, I'd expect closer to a 24 or 30 inch.

    The whole pipe clearly needs to be replaced, any idea how long it is? The problem is half our network needs replacing and with nowhere near an adequate budget to do so we're going to end up with situations like these where vital projects are long fingered


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,188 ✭✭✭ lucernarian


    The smaller production plant was shut down only a few weeks ago, but would have maintained supply in North Drogheda including the hospital. The remaining facilities could have let water rationing and rotation measures to work, including for the significant disruption faced in smaller towns in Co. Meath.

    Irish Water refused to use these facilities last week as they were suboptimal for operational reasons, and the 60,000 affected properties be damned.

    Edit: going by the photos, the pipe looked to be about 80cm or more in diameter. I think it's about 2km long or so.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 6,365 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Irish Steve


    The underlying issue with the failure of the supply pipe to the treatment works is that as a direct result of a lack of investment over a number of decades, there now is no sensible reserve storage of treated water for huge parts of the area that are supplied from that one treatment plant. The pipe failed, and because of a lack of contingency planning, a huge chunk of the area ran out of water long before a plan to get alternatives in place was operating. I find it hard to believe that it wasn't possible to get alternative pumps and suitable pipes to lay in an emergency supply to the treatment works, even if it meant setting up temporary intermediate tanks so that multiple pumps could be used in stages. In the same vein, it should have been an urgent priority to get tankers in to service to move water to the storage tanks at places like Ashbourne within hours of the failure, not days, especially after they tried 3 repairs and none of them worked, and a viable repair plan was a number of days out.

    There's no doubt that Irish Water inherited a can of worms, and to make it worse, I doubt that there was anyone from Louth County Council who had detailed knowledge of that pipe, given it's been in the ground for close on 50 years. Hopefully, IW will give high priority to installing the replacement, which ideally will be failure proofed, the cost of installing 2 pipes in the one trench is probably not as high as having to replace it at some stage in the future if it fails.

    The treatment works at Drogheda is clearly critical, so depending on one pipeline to supply it would seem to me to be a very fraught strategy. That's only part of the problem, there then remains to be addressed the lack of adequate storage all round the network, so that if a critical pipe or pump fails, there is enough stored water to allow for a contingency plan to be put into action, as things stand now, there are parts of Ashbourne that run out of water long before the tower is empty, because it's too low in relation to parts of the town that have been built since the original tower was built.

    Given the crazy way that the political system works these days, the chances of a new larger and higher tower being built any time soon is probably about as good as the chances of pink snow in August, there's no votes in a reliable water supply, as was so clearly demonstrated over the last while.

    I have very little faith in the senior management of IW, as their track record in previous places was far from good, and as usual, because IW is semi state, there is no way to remove people who don't perform, and we've seen how that concept works with things like the HSE. I've had personal experience of trying to engage with IW on other issues relating to flooding, and to say that it's not been good would be putting it mildly.

    The potential impact on the economy of the area that was affected is massive, but recognising and resolving that will require some serious engagement and commitment from the whole political system, which I don't see happening any time soon, the costs of that engagement will frighten them away yet again.

    Just as well that Leixlip wasn't affected, the implications for a company like Intel being out of action for a week because of a failure of the water supply don't bear thinking about. A company like Intel could very easily decide to move their entire production over an issue like this, the cost to the economy would be massive, way beyond the actual cost of making sure the infrastructure is adequate for the job.

    Shore, if it was easy, everybody would be doin it.😁



  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,214 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CatInABox


    There's no doubt that Irish Water inherited a can of worms, and to make it worse, I doubt that there was anyone from Louth County Council who had detailed knowledge of that pipe, given it's been in the ground for close on 50 years.

    Indeed, I get the feeling that a lot of the "invisible infrastructure" in Ireland is also the "forgotten infrastructure". You only need to look back at the Dart bridge collapse in Malahide to see a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The bridge was inspected by an Irish Rail diver, who gave it the all clear, and then it collapses less than a week later. Turns out that Irish Rail, due to retirements amongst people who had been inspecting the bridge, had forgotten that it was a certain type of bridge, so weren't running the proper checks on it.

    If Irish Water are serious about upgrading their infrastructure all over Ireland, then expect issues like this water pipe to become more common, as unintended consequences spiral out.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    CatInABox wrote: »
    Indeed, I get the feeling that a lot of the "invisible infrastructure" in Ireland is also the "forgotten infrastructure". You only need to look back at the Dart bridge collapse in Malahide to see a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The bridge was inspected by an Irish Rail diver, who gave it the all clear, and then it collapses less than a week later. Turns out that Irish Rail, due to retirements amongst people who had been inspecting the bridge, had forgotten that it was a certain type of bridge, so weren't running the proper checks on it.

    If Irish Water are serious about upgrading their infrastructure all over Ireland, then expect issues like this water pipe to become more common, as unintended consequences spiral out.

    There is not just an issue with water, the waste water treatment is even more critical. Irish Water are responsible for some of it, but not all, as septic tank are not there problem - yet.

    There are a huge number of ineffective septic tank installations all over Ireland that contaminate ground water. In France, such installations need an annual inspection and certificate from a qualified agency. In Ireland - 'no, it'll be grand - sure it hasn't caused any problems in years - and no it hasn't been inspected in years either'.

    You can buy drinking water, but polluted ground water is a difficult problem to solve.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ Chuchote


    I'm not sure why one piece of infrastructure cannot be funded by taxation when health, defense, policing, roads, education is?
    What's so magic about water that it needs a regressive method of funding, rather than progressive taxation?

    The pot of gold is finite.
    Taking water out of the pot and creating it's own little pot for repair/ upgrading was the progressive way of doing it, much like most other countries do.
    I was paying water charges the UK in the 80's. It was considered a normal thing to do!

    Of course , it also leaves more money in the pot for other services as well.

    It's typical of privatisation-loving governments to starve a resource provider then when people rear up to say it needs to be privatised.

    We were all paying water rates back in the day.

    The objection now isn't so much to paying as to paying a company rather than the State - people have the odd idea that companies are out to profit.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,781 ✭✭✭ Carawaystick


    CatInABox wrote: »
    Also, a flat tax isn't progressive, it's regressive. Someone who is filling their two swimming pools in their 15 bathroom mansion currently pays the same level as someone that only has one bathroom.

    It's far more progressive to charge based upon usage in the case of water. Those that use it the most should pay the most. There should be exceptions and exemptions for certain families that have special needs.

    But policing, health, roads, education aren't charged like that. They are funded from general taxation.

    Why is providing fresh water and treating some sewage different?

    The Irish water charges would have seen a widow with no income charged the same a a millionaire earning megabucks. which is regressive.
    The main issue with Irish water is that it was set up to cook the books; to get some public spending off the national accounts. Most of the major failures were the fruits of that.

    The council run water supply and treatment assets were transferred to it at zero cost
    then the council staff were kept on to do the same work but with an overhead of IW pensions and consultants


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  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,214 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CatInABox


    But policing, health, roads, education aren't charged like that. They are funded from general taxation.

    Why is providing fresh water and treating some sewage different?

    The Irish water charges would have seen a widow with no income charged the same a a millionaire earning megabucks. which is regressive.
    The main issue with Irish water is that it was set up to cook the books; to get some public spending off the national accounts. Most of the major failures were the fruits of that.

    The council run water supply and treatment assets were transferred to it at zero cost
    then the council staff were kept on to do the same work but with an overhead of IW pensions and consultants

    There's no denying that Irish Water was a catastrophe of epic proportions, but I wasn't speaking about their charging structure, more in general, i.e. the ideal charging structure for water. I'm not defending the Irish Water set up at all, but more advocating the need for usage water charges.

    In most of your examples, there are usage based examples. I paid fees each year in college. I pay the doctor every time I visit him. I pay a toll if I want to use certain roads. There's probably an example for the Garda too, but I, thankfully, haven't had a need to use them.

    Tell me, would you be okay with water charges if it was taken like PAYE? In other words, the widow with no income wouldn't pay anything, the worker with only one bathroom will pay a little because that's all he uses, and the woman with a mansion will pay loads because she uses loads?

    There's got to be increased expenditure on water infrastructure over the next ten or twenty years, not just to repair what's there, but to also expand the current system to deal with Ireland's inevitable population growth. Where is that money going to come from?


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