Engineers Ireland ‘State of Ireland 2018 – A Review of Infrastructure in Ireland’ report finds:

  • Just 20% of Chartered Engineers believe Ireland’s infrastructure is in good shape
  • Water and flooding infrastructure receive ‘C’ grade – inadequately maintained, unable to meet peak demand and requiring significant investment
  • Major projects such as the Eastern and Midlands Region Water Supply Project and the Greater Dublin Drainage Project are needed to support growth for the next generation
  • Leakage should be reduced from 44% to 35% in the next five years – presenting the opportunity to save 22,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water per year.
  • 118 flood relief schemes must be delivered strategically to protect 95% of properties identified as high-risk
  • New flood forecasting and warning systems should be expanded as we deal with the effects of climate change
  • Shortage of engineers and other construction professionals are risking our capacity to deliver critical infrastructure projects

Severe water shortages faced recently by thousands of households and businesses across the Dublin, eastern and midlands regions will continue to get much worse if key water supply projects for these areas are not delivered, the Director General of Engineers Ireland Caroline Spillane has said.

Speaking today  in advance of the launch of Engineers Ireland’s ‘The State of Ireland 2018 – A Review of Infrastructure in Ireland’ report, Ms Spillane said the Water Supply Project for the Eastern and Midlands Region that is to source water from the Shannon was a critical piece of infrastructure that needed to be delivered as soon as possible.

“The Eastern and Midlands Region water supply project is the first major new water source in the region for more than 60 years.  The initiative has the capacity to meet the ever-increasing domestic and commercial water needs of more than 40% of the Irish population beyond 2050. Sourcing water from the Lower River Shannon has been identified by Irish Water as the best supply option based on cost, environmental impact and the potential benefit to the wider region and Ireland as a whole.  With water supply to the Dublin and midlands region in an extremely precarious state, any delays that derail this project will only worsen an already severe situation for towns and businesses in these areas,” Ms Spillane commented.

The annual Engineers Ireland report, an expert-led analysis of six critical sectors of the country’s infrastructure, found that just 20% of Chartered Engineers believe Ireland’s overall infrastructure is in good condition. This year’s report focuses on water / wastewater and flooding infrastructure, both of which were allocated a ‘C’ grade – highlighting infrastructure that is inadequately maintained and/or unable to meet peak demand, and requiring significant investment.

The insights from two expert advisory panels made up of 40 engineering experts, in conjunction with a survey of 1,000 Chartered Engineers across Ireland, form the basis for the report.

The report, now in its eighth year, will be launched by Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, at Engineers Ireland offices on Clyde Road, Dublin 4 today, with the event also involving a roundtable discussion with: Evelyn Cusack (Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann); Richard Crowe (MD of Nicholas O Dwyer Ltd); Caroline Spillane (Director General of Engineers Ireland); and Peter Quinn (President of Engineers Ireland).

Peter Quinn, President of Engineers Ireland, commented: “From clean water supplies to defending communities from flooding, engineers are to the forefront of delivering solutions for the benefit of all.  Today, our report sets out two- and five- year priority actions which are necessary to improve the performance of our infrastructure networks.  These priority recommendations need to be delivered if we are to meet current environmental, social and economic challenges.  And only sustained action in these areas will enable us to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.”

Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “The Government is committed to investing in strategic national infrastructure that is vital to Ireland in line with our Project 2040 goals.  In order to future-proof our economy, we will continue to make significant long-term investments in areas like water, flood defences, communications, waste, transport, education, health and enterprise in urban and rural regions. These investments will facilitate a modern capital infrastructure that boosts competitiveness, creates jobs and supports sustainable Irish economic growth, with raised living standards, into the future.”

Key recommendations in The State of Ireland 2018 relating to water/wastewater and flooding include:

  • Ensure the entire country has a safe and secure drinking water supply.
  • Complete upgrades of existing infrastructure such as water supply at Vartry (Wicklow), water treatment at Lee Road (Cork) and wastewater treatment at Ringsend (Dublin) and Cork Lower Harbour.
  • Progress strategic projects to support the growth of Dublin and the wider region, including the Eastern & Midlands Region Water Supply Project and the Greater Dublin Drainage Project.
  • Eliminate all untreated wastewater discharges to safeguard water quality, human health and the natural environment.
  • Reduce water network leakage from 44% to 35% within the next five years (saving the equivalent of 22,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water per year).
  • Strategically deliver the 118 flood relief schemes identified in the Flood Plans to protect 95% of properties at risk of flooding.
  • Expand our knowledge on the effects of climate change and translate this knowledge into the design of resilient infrastructure.
  • Compile a register of all significant dams in Ireland and develop a system of assessment for multi-functional dams.
  • Continue the development of the National Flood Forecasting and Warning Service and improve local warning systems to assist emergency response.
  • Launch a Sustainability Education Programme on water quality, the value of water, the causes of flooding and the full array of flood risk management options.

Mr Quinn, President of Engineers Ireland, added: “The State of Ireland 2018 comes at a pivotal juncture for our country.  Over the next 20 years, our population is set to increase by one million people.  Regional development is vital but we must prepare for the majority of this population and jobs growth to be focused in urban centres.  This will mean putting in place strategic systems of sustainable infrastructure to support growth, including water and wastewater services and flood defences.

“Delivering Project Ireland 2040, including our priority actions, will be impossible without expanded industry and a larger engineering workforce. We face challenges posed by skills shortages, particularly in the Civil and Building Engineering field.  I would like to encourage more young people, especially young women, to pursue a career in engineering,” Mr Quinn concluded.

To read the ‘The State of Ireland 2018 – A Review of Infrastructure in Ireland’ report, please visit: http://engineersireland.ie/EngineersIreland/media/SiteMedia/communications/policy/State%20of%20Ireland/State-of-Ireland-2018.pdf

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