Tuesday March 2nd , 2021 Water Blog

Need upgraded water infrastructure


There’s the news of a water outage in Sutton, Co. Dublin on this day Tuesday 2nd March due to a burst watermain with planned water off until 4pm today. These water infrastructure failings feel like a daily occurrence. They are not just an Irish occurrence though. Water infrastructure is a challenge the world over. In January this year the UN university stated that there is an emerging global development issue as tens of thousands of existing large dams have reached or exceeded an “alert” age threshold of 50 years, and many others will soon approach 100 years.

Globally the water related challenges are many and significant. The US has experienced 255 weather and climate disasters exceeding US$1 billion since 1980. The recent Texas catastrophe exposed the vulnerable link between three essential services: water, power and energy. Power is needed to provide water. Challenges to weather can impact our water quality and as we have seen recently in the US and water supply also.

In Africa, the institutions responsible for water and sanitation service delivery in Uganda have undergone huge reform since the 1990s. There have been steady investments in water supply infrastructure over the last 30 years, which has led to improvements in access to safe water supplies in rural and urban areas. Improved sanitation has also increased, although at a lower rate. Uganda’s most important export is coffee – but problems of soil fertility and poor water management have challenged industry.

There is hope: a project in the Kyoga and Upper Nile Water Management Zones including the improvement of the national water resources monitoring and information system has led to a new approach to water management.

A report in 2020[1] has shown that to ensure the long-term availability and improved quality of water supply through enhanced source protection, the project helped construct, improve and expand priority water supply infrastructure and sewerage services in municipalities.

Water infrastructure requires long term sustainable management and maintenance.  It must be robust and deliver an uninterrupted supply for a huge range of needs – including domestic, community and industry based. The climate change related challenges mean that weather patterns can disrupt sources of water, affect quality of the supply and interfere with production and distribution. While we need innovation in water infrastructure, first and foremost we need a robust reliable system to provide a continuous supply. This may not be innovative but it is essential and can have significant impact.

[1] https://reliefweb.int/report/uganda/uganda-improvements-water-management-and-sanitation-services-promote-sustainability

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