The Irish Drought

“I am sorry to inform you that we have to shut the water off from 8:30p.m. to 8:30a.m. while you stay here.” Those are not words anyone wants to hear while moving into a hostel nearing the night hours, but it makes you wonder why something like that would happen. Is it because they are trying to save money? I am sure that is what most people would assume at first because it’s Ireland, it rains almost 250 days a year. Well, that is not exactly true everywhere you go. There are some places in Ireland that are experiencing severe drought as of now and there is not much they can do to stop it. On the Aran Islands there has not been substantial rain in almost 15 weeks. I began to wonder, how is that possible? It rains everywhere else. I set out and found the answer to that question: as moisture and clouds are traveling from the ocean, they travel until they hit something where it triggers the release of the water as rain, typically on mountains or other high land. These islands are nearly completely flat, so all of the clouds are traveling right over while only drizzling a little rain at best, resulting in a major water shortage. Others may ask, well they are on an island – why can’t they just get water from the lakes and water around them? The answer to that is simple, the surrounding water is not clean at all. Ireland signifies the clarity and cleanliness of the bodies of water by flags. A blue flag signifies very clear and safe water, while a white flag signifies that the water is unclear and not suitable for consumption. The white flags are flying all over these islands, which also means that the tap water is not very safe for consumption.

The Irish government is getting a lot of backlash as of now for their recent proposal to tax and charge for the amount of water used by citizens. The reason the people of the nation are against this is because they believe water is a natural resource and that no one should have control over the pricing. It was clearly obvious as I talked to the locals that no one was very happy about not being able to use water after the set hours. However they are not complaining too much because it is what is necessary for the water to be sustainable. In my opinion, it is not difficult getting accustomed to the water ban, it just creates some small issues such as flushing toilets at night or showering, but nothing too important.

One Reply to “The Irish Drought”

  1. Sean, I think you have two different conditions confused. Blue Flag beaches are environmentally pristine. White flags (or white/black flags) indicate the swimming safety conditions. So, you could have both a Blue flag and a white flag on the same beach if the surf and tide conditions meant it was unsafe for swimming. You can’t drink sea water… so the Blue flag has nothing to do with potable water.

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