Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dublin's Water Crisis Revisited

Now that water supplies have returned to normal throughout the country it is time to look back at what happened. The problem during the intense cold weather with burst pipes and excessive demand caused by families forced to stay at home while also leaving taps running overnight night to prevent pipes freezing drove up demand well beyond the supply capacity of 545 MLD peaking at 625 MLD. So while demand is now well within capacity we will be faced with exactly the same problem the next time we have a severe cold spell.

Our real problem in Dublin is that demand is steadily rising and is estimated to reach a staggering 800MLD over the next 25 years. Couple this demand figure with expected summer rainfall reductions of 20-30% and a temperatures increase of 1.0-1.5 degrees C by 2050, the problem of supply shortfalls can only get worse. Plans are in place to transfer water from the Shannon to storage lakes in Offaly and then supplied to Dublin as required. However, we may need to look seriously at alternative actions. Many have called for greater leakage reduction; however, leakage in Dublin is down from a high of 43% in 1990 to the current level of 29%, although leakage of 40% is common in some of the hub towns around the capital. Although it is planned to reduce leakage in Dublin to 20% by 2031, this is probably unrealistic due to cost. Most utilities with similar distribution infrastructure to that of Dublin are only managing about 24% on average requiring huge and continuous investment annually to maintain this level. Leakage is a fact of life and even after decades of investment UK water utilities are still loosing 3,275 MLD from their mains. What is clear is that for over a decade in Ireland we have focused on improving surface water quality rather than investing sufficiently in water supply infrastructure and water conservation. Given the current financial situation it may now be too late. For that reason it makes even greater sense to adopt a water demand management approach to our water supply problems. This is the focus of the research being conducted by Jennifer Brady a member of Water Technology Research Group.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Water Beetles in Ireland

Donacia cinerea
Copyright National Biodiversity Data Centre
Last week saw the start of the undergraduate course ZO3083 Freshwater Biology, so my mind has made its seasonal switch from wastewater and water treatment to all things freshwater.  I have been very intrigued by a relatively new website hosted by the National Biodiversity Data Centre Water Beetles of Ireland.  This comprehensive website makes a strong case for a greater use of water beetles in routine surveillance, especially for wetlands.  There are some 340 species of water beetle found in Ireland and the site gives excellent coverage of the ecology, distribution (especially impressive) and conservation of the group.  It is a fascinating site and well worth a visit.  However, I am not too sure that we should be encouraging everyone to rush down to their local river or lake to collect specimens.   So, can I recommend you enjoy the images on this excellent site and the next time you are involved in water sampling take a longer look at those larval and adult beetles. Link

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reminder: TCD Postgraduate Open Day

Trinity College Dublin
copyright Tigroney

Just to remind you that members of the Water Technology Research Group will be at the School of Natural Sciences stand at this year's Postgraduate Open Day on Thursday, 27 January 2011 from 4pm - 7pm in the historic Exam Hall in Trinity College Dublin. All the schools and disciplines will be represented and you will have the chance to discuss postgraduate opportunities.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

IRCSET PhD Scholarships 2011

Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) ‘EMBARK’ Initiative and the Enterprise Partnership Scheme (EPS) offer opportunities for suitably qualified individuals to pursue a postgraduate degree by research. The Scheme supports basic research in the broad areas of Science, Engineering and Technology. The online application system opens on Wednesday 12th January 2011 for individuals hoping to begin postgraduate research in the Republic of Ireland in September, 2011. The strict deadline for applicants to submit applications is Wednesday 16th February, 2011. Link  Those interested in applying for a PhD with the Water Technology Group or within the Centre for the Environment should contact Nick Gray in the first instance.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Queensland's Floods Intensify

Flood areas prior to
 Brisbane River 
As flooding in Queensland continues to worsen, up to 50 of Brisbane's suburbs are predicted to be affected by flood water during today with some areas completely submerged.

More rain is expected with flooding now occurring in neighbouring New South Wales. Use the link for  a RTE news update on the situation in Brisbane:  Link

Copyright BBC

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review on Acid Mine Drainage Treatment


Theresa Hughes, a PhD researcher with the Water Technology Research Group  has just published a review on acid mine drainage treatment in the new book Mine Drainage and Related Problems edited by Brock C. Robinson. The full reference is:

Hughes, T.A. and Gray, N.F. (2010) Effectiveness and Sustainability of Active and Passive Systems for the Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage and the Recovery of Metals: A Review, In Mine Drainage and Related Problems (ed. B.C. Robinson) pp. 1-69 Nova Science, New York

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2011

Water always figures pretty highly in projects carried out by schools for the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. Now in its 47th year and sponsored by BT it will be taking place at the RDS 12-15th January. We have supported a number of projects over the years and have had a great time.  If you have time to visit the exhibition you will find it very worthwhile. For more details use this link.

A full list of projects on show can be downloaded here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Science Spin January 2011

The latest edition of Ireland's science magazine  Science Spin is now available and can be seen on line at:

The magazine includes a report on the progress being made by the UCD/TCD Innovation Academy initiative and also previews this year's Young Scientist Exhibition.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Annual Meeting of Irish Freshwater Biologists 2011

The 2011 Annual Meeting of Irish Freshwater Biologists will focus on ‘New Methodologies in Freshwater Biological Research’ and will be held in the Medical Biology Centre, Queens University, Belfast on Saturday, 5th of March 2011.  If you’re interested in attending please contact Maria Walsh

If you’d like to give a presentation on your research, please email a title Maria by the 17th of January. There will be a €15 fee to cover lunch and coffee.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

RTE 1 News

Pprofessor Nick Gray was interviewed today for RTE Evening News about the long term problem of Dublin water infrastructure.  Link

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RTE Radio1 Drivetime Interview

Professor Nick Gray was interviewed today by Drivetime presenter Philip Boucher Hayes along with engineering consultant Kevin Murray on the future of the Irish water industry and what has been learnt from the current supply crisis. The interview can be accessed for the next 7 days: Link

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Queensland's Flooding Continues

Today's 24 hour rainfall.
Copyright Australian Government
 For us in Ireland, or indeed within Europe, it is hard to image the reality of the recent floods in Queensland Australia. It is impossible for us to image the scale of the affected area which is larger than France and Germany combined with more then 200,000 people suffering the consequences. I was only in communication a couple of days ago with a Colleague based at the university at Rockhampton which has been severely affected and is still waiting for the flooding to reach its peak.

Up to date information can be obtained from the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology Emergency website which links to the Queensland Flood Warning Centre.  More information on Flooding in Australia: Link

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dublin's Water Shortages Ease

Copyright: RTE News

 For the first time since the thaw water demand in the Greater Dublin area has dropped below production. The supply on the 1st January, 2011 (Happy New Year!) was 545 MLd while demand was at 522 MLd.  However, water restrictions will remain in place for at least another week to allow stored water supplies to recover, so for most of Dublin's population this will mean that supplies will be cut off from 18.00 to 7.00 each night.  The situation around the rest of the country continues to improve as leaks are detected and repaired.