Irish Glass Bottle site in Dublin: decentralised waste water

Should a system to permanently reduce Irish Water charges be provided for the Irish Glass Bottle site in Dublin?

In a recent Irish Times article, Ronan McGreevy writes “Irish Water says households are still liable for bills. Utility states customers must pay outstanding balances despite suspension of charges”.

Olivia Kelly, also for the Irish Times, reports: “The redevelopment of the former Irish Glass Bottle site is expected to see the provision of up to 3,000 homes in the Poolbeg peninsula in Dublin. The project is to be “fast-tracked” following Cabinet approval for the creation of a special planning scheme for the area.” (Plans for 3,000 homes on former Irish Glass Bottle site in Dublin).

Yes, addressing the severe housing crisis that exists in Dublin at present is certainly to be welcomed. Could we also progress the question of water bills at the same time? Of note is that near to this Glass Bottle site, just down the road at Ringsend, is the city’s overloaded waste water treatment system. At the same time the city’s drinking water supply system is often under stress during periods of long summer dry spells.

The EU produced a COUNCIL DIRECTIVE (91/271/EEC) on 21st May 1991 concerning urban waste water treatment. In it, it states in Article 12: “Treated waste water shall be reused whenever appropriate.” Can water that is properly treated, be recycling for the new houses on the Glass Bottle site? The problem is that the nearby Ringsend sewage treatment plant is not performing to a high enough standard to provide water that is clean enough that it can be reused.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to take steps to reduce the two problems at the same time; one being the overloaded waste water treatment system while the other is to reduce the drinking water demand. In the context of the continuing national controversy over Irish Water Charges is there some way that this new town could for ever more, provide a reliable portion of its own non-potable water?

The good news is that “Part H of the Irish Building Regulations” states that grey water that is adequately treated can be reused again for domestic toilet flushing or gardening. Grey water is defined as waste water from baths, showers, hand-basins and clothes washers. Perhaps then, this separated grey water could be collected in a dedicated grey water collection pipe from the 3,000 housing units and treated in an on-site facility. The treated grey water could then be recycled back to all of the houses and apartments in another special non potable water piped system for toilet flushing and gardening. Having two separate waste water pipes for black water and grey water and another two supply pipes for drinking water and non drinking water should therefore be considered. This should be specified in the design brief for this new Glass Bottle development.

This decentralised waste water treatment and recycling system would contribute greatly to lowering water charges for the new home owners over the next 30 and more years. Surely more of these decentralized systems should be considered and encouraged in situations where there are problems with the local urban water supply and the local waste water treatment system. A community or co-op owned grey water treatment system could become a permanent way to reduce water bills for the 3000 Irish Glass Bottle home owners.