2016 Drought plan would have ‘used drought situation’ to promote metering

Irish Water’s National Draught Plan from 2016 recommended focusing communications on ‘using drought situations’ to promote controversial policies like water metering, while no mention of climate change awareness was made.

The draft plan, which laid out a plan for handling droughts nationwide, placed a strong emphasis on Irish Waters communications to the public, including ‘ensuring correct and consistent messages are delivered to local, regional and national levels’ and ‘making Irish Water’s role clear to media, public and other stakeholders’.

The report also noted the most significant drought years of the past, ie  1887 being the driest year on record but failed to make any direct mention of how climate change is predicted to increase the number of extreme weather events, including droughts, and made no mention of including climate change awareness as part of its messaging.

Amongst the listed ‘drought communication objectives’ was to ‘use drought situation to promote other important areas of water resource management’ and to ‘incorporate key policy areas in drought messages, eg. metering”.

The plan was released to Right to Know under an FOI request requesting “large-scale contingency or planning reports for how Ireland would cope in the event of a prolonged drought”.

In response, a spokesperson for Irish Water stated “The Plan dates from November 2016 when the metering programme was in place focuses on contingency planning and the operational response of Irish Water to drought situations. Irish Water does not have a policy on metering. At the time this Plan was written, Irish Water was implementing Government policy on metering as directed. The metering programme concluded in January 2017.”

Irish Water is currently concluding work on a National Water Resources Plan which, they claim “incorporates drought planning and takes account of climate change” and will go into consultation in Autumn. Until then, the below plan remains in place.

Read the 2016 draft plan in full here:


FOI Details:

The records requested for this FOI were:

  • “Copies of any large-scale contingency or planning reports for how Ireland would cope in the
    event of a prolonged drought or if there is no significant rainfall in autumn to replenish water
  • “Copies of any submissions, reports, memoranda or other such documents prepared within Irish
    Water or shared with a government department relating to the above scenario.
    This part of the request to cover period 01 June 2018 to current date.”