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Water Charges

July 21, 2014

Early Childhood Ireland Water Submission

Irish Water has been established by Government to provide water and wastewater services to all homes and businesses connected to the public water system. The Commission for Energy Regulation’s (CER) role is to protect the interests of water customers, to ensure water services are delivered in a safe, secure and sustainable way and that Irish Water operates in an economic and efficient manner. The CER is the body responsible for ensuring that the prices that Irish Water charges to customers are fair and reasonable. They recently published a consultation paper that presents the findings of the CER’s review of Irish Water’s Interim Price Control 2014-2016 submission and Irish Water’s Water Charges Plan, which comprises costs and associated tariffs for the period 1st October 2014 – 31st December 2016 to which we have responded with our Water Submission 

What Early Childhood Ireland is seeking:

In July 2014 Early Childhood Ireland consulted with members on the issue of water charges. Informed by our survey and interviews, we are calling on government and Irish Water to provide for:

  1. Exemption from water charges for all children in funded early childhood preschool provision (those services delivering the Government ECCE scheme)
  2. Water allowances for every child in all other early childhood care and education settings (sessional, full and part-time day care)
  3. Exemption from water charges in early education services where the water quality is substandard
  4. Reinstatement of funding for the Green Preschools Programme
  5. Continued research on water consumption


Read our full Water Submission here pdficon_small



Water Conservation Tips


With water charges on the way for everybody, we have compiled some interesting facts and ways to help promote the conservation of water in your preschool and at home.


Water Facts – Did you know :

  • 99% of the world’s water cannot be used because it is either saline or is locked up in glaciers and ice sheets.

  • Most of the remaining water is present in rocks as groundwater (approx. 0.6%), while just over 0.3% is present in rivers and lakes.

  • A person uses about 145 litres of clean treated water per day in an average household, while a school uses about 35 litres of water per student per day.1

  • A tap dripping once a second wastes about 45,000 litres of water a year.

  • Leaving the tap on while brushing your teeth wastes approximately 11,000 litres of water per year!!!

  • Our own bodies are two thirds water and our brains are at least 85% water!

  • A hosepipe or sprinkler can use 1,000 litres (or 1 tonne) of water per hour. This is as much as a family of four would normally use in two days!
  • A powershower uses almost 125 litres of water in 5 minutes. That’s  250 litres in 10 minutes!

Key Statistics – Water consumption facts in Ireland

Domestic water consumption in average sized household is 145 litres per person per day.This is now being disputed by Irish Water’s latest research stipulating that it is 111 litres per person per day, but more research needs to be done.2

Using national average house occupancy rate of 2.8 (2006 Census), water consumption in an average household is 148 cubic metres per annum.1 Irish water state that the average consumption is equivalent to approximately 109 cubic metres per household per year, or approximately 41 cubic metres per person per year.2

Apportionment of household water consumption is typically:

Drinking water         3%  
Shower/bath      32%
Toilets                    28% 
Washing machine 12%
Sink/dishwasher 22%
External use 3%




Water Charges

Domestic water charges are due to commence in Quarter 4, 2014, with customers due to receive their first bills in Quarter 1, 2015 (Irish Water 2014).

At present water charges are payable if water is being supplied for use by business, trade or manufacture, which includes schools and preschools.

We have devised tips below to help save on your water costs while highlighting the importance of conserving water for the environment.


The Importance of Conserving Water

Water is an important resource and a sufficient supply of clean water is essential to the health of both people and the environment. All of our food production and agriculture needs water.

The raw material may appear to be plentiful, but worldwide, and even in parts of Ireland (particularly at certain times of year), it is an increasingly scarce resource. An increase in population in urban areas has resulted in increased pressure on Local Authority waste water treatment facilities and, in many instances, the inability to cope with the increasing volumes of waste generated.

The first step when tackling any theme is to raise awareness and try to improve behaviour, both in the preschool and in the home. Making people think about how they can reduce their own water consumption can be very effective. It has been shown that careful water management, coupled with an effective education programme, can reduce water use from 12 cubic metres (12 tonnes!) per student per year to 4 cubic metres a year!!!


Green Pre-Schools in Ireland

Unfortunately the funding is not available for the Green Preschools Programme at present ( July 2014) but their  website has some resources available. Water is the second theme for pre-schools undertaking the Green Pre-Schools programme.

There are also case studies of Preschools who have completed the Water theme on the Green Schools website. This programme is known internationally as Eco-Schools, and it is an international environmental education programme, environmental management system and award scheme that promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole school action for the environment.


Tips for Conserving Water

We have devised some top tips for using water carefully and efficiently both in your preschool and at home.


1. Get everyone involved! Conduct a water audit.

It’s important that staff, children and parents are informed and involved with the conservation of water in your service. Discuss with the children why it’s important to conserve and not pollute water.Incorporate their ideas and questions into activities around the topic, and include in the curriculum and everyday routines. Raising awareness and promoting good habits should always be your first priority.
Discuss all the ways in which you use water and think about how you can use less water everyday. Check that there aren’t any leaks using advice from taptips or the Green Schools Ireland website


2. Tap tips!

  • When washing vegetables use a bowl– and use the remaining water for watering the plants.

  • Don’t leave the tap running until water goes cold – keep a jug of cold drinking water in the fridge!

  • Keep tap washers in good shape or use washerless taps

  • Turn off the tap – Teach preschoolers not to let water run while they are washing their hands. Have them rinse their hands and then turn off the water while applying soap and lathering up. Have the child turn the water back on to rinse off the soap.

  • Repair leaking taps – a constant drip can waste over a 1,000 litres a month! The prompt reporting of drips, leaks, jammed or faulty taps, and other problems by children should be developed as part of the your ethos and seen as a responsibility of everyone.

  • Encourage children to bring refillable water bottles from home. They can fill these with water instead of using a drinking fountain, which wastes water.

  • Washroom Taps: If the flow rate of taps is too strong, can it be adjusted to ‘just adequate.’ Self-closing or percussion taps that close automatically after a preset period could be used instead of conventional screw taps to effectively reduce water consumption. Taps with spray heads can reduce water consumption by up to 50%, but like spray taps require regular maintenance.

3. Choose water and energy efficient appliances, and use sensibly

(i.e. dishwashers, washing machines, etc)

  • Before turning on your washing machine or dishwasher make sure they are full to capacity – or where possible adjust the water level to suit the load you are using.

  • Don’t boil a full kettle when all you need is one or two cups!

  • When replacing fixtures choose water conserving models – the price is about the same

  • Replace old toilets with new low-flush models. Older models can use up to 20 litres per flush in comparison to the 6 litre flush models currently on the market. If your service has 9 litre toilet cisterns, insert hippo bags.If the cisterns are less than 8 litres you can displace water by placing plastic bottles filled with
    water into the cistern so that less water is used with each flush.

  • Replace the washer on the ball cock in you cistern and storage tank if you notice an overflow of water

  • When children have finished their water play, use the remaining water to water the plants

  • Construct a water wall which uses minimal water and is a great way to learn about gravity, physics, momentum, and maths to name but a few…


4. Cleaning Practices

The use of environmentally friendly detergents and washing-up liquids are becoming more widespread and is a practice that can be relatively easy to introduce to the pre school, to help prevent water pollution .Here are some fabulous eco friendly cleaning tips from ‘The Green Light’ publication.


5.Hot Water Supplies

Hot water taps and showers can be a big source of water and energy loss. Keep runs of pipework short and lag pipes properly. This helps insure hot water comes through after a short period of time.


6. Toilets

Ensure that urinal cisterns flush at the minimum frequency required and consider installing control devices. It is important that any reductions in volume are not carried out at the expense of effective flushing. Urinals and toilets are convenient and tempting places to flush things down. Blocked or otherwise dysfunctional toilets are one of the worst advertisements for your preschool, yet they often receive the least attention.


7. In the Garden

  • Use a barrel to collect rainwater for use around the garden and washing the car (make the barrel safe by covering with suitable wire mesh to avoid accidents).

  • Lawn sprinklers are discouraged and should not be left on overnight. Watering gardens and hanging baskets with a hand-held watering can uses much less water than a hose.

  • Water in the morning or the evening to minimise evaporation (in hot weather).

  • Mulch around plants with cardboard/newspaper and grass clippings/straw to reduce water loss

  • Use waste water from water play or vege peeling to water your plants

  • Use a bucket of water not a hose for watering- A hose uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in a day.

  • ‘When mowing your lawn set the mower blades to 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil improving moisture retention, has more leaf surface to take in sunlight, allowing it to grow thicker and develop a deeper root system.’

 Adapted from

8. Water Harvesting

Outside the preschool: Water butts can be used to collect rainwater, which is better for plants. Although not necessarily contributing huge amounts to overall savings, the application of water saving ideas to pre/school gardens can help develop good life-long habits and raise awareness of the value and role of water for life. It is important however to always be concerned with safety when dealing with water butts.

It is possible for the garden to be self sufficient in water by harvesting it from roofs of the preschool, shelters, sheds and even play areas.

  • Water collectors are available from local County Councils.

  • Barrels can be purchased from the local supermarket, garden centre or agricultural store.

  • Special connectors are available for gutters and down pipes which are easy to install (may come with the butts – if not check local garden centre or hardware shop).

  • Ask parents for any old bins they may be able to donate to the school for water collection, these can be placed directly under down pipes.

  • Ensure an overflow system is in place for barrels / bins.

  • Barrels / bins can be put up on blocks and a tap can be fitted to allow easy filling of watering cans.

Adapted from :



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