Rainwater Catchment in Ireland: Required for New Construction?

Sarah Ward's picture
Sarah Ward
Consultant
January 15, 2014

Rainwater catchment systems have a direct and substantial impact on per capita water consumption - and the Irish government is planning on making their installation in new construction a requirement.

Rainwater catchment systems will have a 7 to 10 year payback period for Irish homeowners.
Rainwater catchment systems will have a 7 to 10 year payback period for Irish homeowners.
Credit: saradent.ca via Flickr

Rainwater catchment systems are possibly one of mankind's oldest technologies and, yet, until recently they’ve not been explicitly promoted for widespread use. Ireland, however, is leading the charge, passing a regulation that will require all new construction - from houses and apartments to schools - to incorporate such systems into their designs beginning in 2015.

While in the U.S., and a majority of other countries throughout the world, such environmentally-friendly design aspects are merely socially and culturally acceptable, Irish Environment Minister Phil Hogan sees the political indoctrination of rainwater catchment construction requirements as a much-needed economic policy, saying “there’s huge pressure on the east coast of Ireland in relation to water.” The nation’s per person water usage is averaged at 150 liters, or roughly 40 gallons, per day (roughly half of the estimated 80-100 gallons per day per capita in the US, according to the EPA!). Yikes!

Yet, there’s another incentive at hand here as well. Beginning October 1st of this year, structures supplied from the main water infrastructure operated by Irish Water will be charged.  Plus, houses with inefficient piping are expected to face bills averaging nearly $500.

The catchment systems are expected to reduce household consumption by as much as 50 percent and, consequently, reduce pressure on water mains. The inclusion of rainwater harvesting systems will be required for building permit issuance. While domestic systems already available in Ireland cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,500, the government estimates a payback period of roughly seven to ten years based on the current cost of water in that country.

In addition to the new building requirements, the Irish government will also be establishing a water conservation program this year. The program will not only help current homeowners determine the potential cost savings of installing a rainwater catchment system, but also how to configure one into their existing home design.

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