Tuesday 12th May, 2020 Water Blog

Sir John Gray, Recognised Water as a Public Health Issue


I am always interested to read about things that happened on the 9th of April. It’s my birthday – but one story that really interests me, relates to Sir John Gray who died in Bath, Somerset on the 9th April, 1875.

I am interested in him because of the really important work he did in relation to water supply in Dublin.  He is recognised in a memorial statue on O’Connell Street in Dublin – he is recognised for his contributions to provision of a water supply and the improvements his actions made to public health.  Sir John Gray had an interest in local politics and he was elected an alderman of Dublin Corporation in 1852. The issue of clean water for Dublin was at the top of his agenda. He actively promoted the Vartry Scheme which was a huge project requiring the building of a series of water pumping and filtering stations from the Vartry River to Dublin. Because of his background in medicine, he was a physician and surgeon, he recognised that the introduction of clean water was essential in overcoming the outbreaks of typhus and cholera responsible for so many deaths. Gray was really active in municipal and national government and was chairman of Dublin Corporation Water Works Committee between the years 1863 and 1875.


In today’s Irish times,[1] we see reference to the current necessity for water conservation requested by the Irish water utility.   We have been asking for action for a long time now[2] in relation to water security and resilience because it is a public health issue. Maybe John Gray had success, because his toes were dipped into the waters of public health, politics and community and therefore he was able to deliver real change, that had enormous impact for citizens.

[1] https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/extra-handwashing-prompts-irish-water-to-appeal-for-conservation-1.4250771

[2] https://dcuwater.ie/news/water-blog/

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