- a blog about food and value

The sad return of bottled water

water-bottleWater shortages are continuing to disrupt people’s daily lives. All throughout Ireland, but especially in Dublin, our clapped out water infrastructure has finally wheezed a sigh of relief and kicked the bucket.

On holidays in Croatia a few years ago, a friend’s father gave us his gorgeous island home while he went on holidays. Not before issuing a strict warning: use water carefully, as their tank contained nothing but  rainwater harvested during the year. Within two days, it was gone, and we spent the remainder of the week walking half a mile down to the sea and filling buckets, before dragging them back up a steep hill in the scorching heat. When we discovered that one of our eejit friends had unplugged the water pump and spent the week charging his phone, our relief was tempered with severe beatings.

It gave us a small taste of the difficulty many people across the world face in securing something we in Ireland take so much for granted. This week in Ireland, people have become accustomed to queuing at water tankers. Others are collecting water in barrels or buckets for washing up or flushing the toilet; this handy website tells you everything you need to know about harvesting water.

In the meantime, we still need to drink, so we reluctantly return to bottled water again. It’s like the Celtic Tiger, but stripped off all the fun parts. A Wicklow friend tells me that some local shops have been hiking the price of their bottled water. Here’s some cheaper suggestions:

  • Some garages sell a one litre bottle for just €1, simply labelled “The Water.” I presume it’s nothing more than filtered tap water, but it does the job.
  • Dunnes had a special deal on Ballygowan but it may have expired now.
  • SuperValu are selling12 x 500ml bottles of Kerry Spring half-price, for €3.50

I’ve been using the lack of water as an excuse to drink fizzy water from Spar.

How are you getting by, and have you seen any good deals on bottled water?


  1. I’m a Romanian living in Dublin and I must say that I’m pretty shocked about all-this-water-problem in Ireland.
    Right now, back in my home town, Bucharest (not Budapest, like most of the Irish people think 🙂 ), there is a 40 cm snow, after another similar episodes back in December last. And is freezeing, like -10 or -20 C degrees, not 0 or -1, like in Ireland.
    But never ever, as I remember, it wasn’t a problem with the water in Bucharest due to snow.
    And trust me, the water infrastructure is not great, in terms of pipes age & modernity. But there is water. It doesn’t matter how big the snow is.
    And why is this happening with Ireland, a much modern country (by statistics anyway)?
    I have an answer for you, but it seems that a lot of Irish people don’t want to understand the problem: you have a problem not with the pipes, you have a problem with the huge amount of water you loose every day of the year due to your “conservative and traditional” taps.
    It seems that Irish don’t understand the URGENT need of install mixer taps in the sinks and in the bathrooms.
    All Europe, except UK and Ireland, use mixer taps for water, it’s so economic, so handy, so modern, so ecological
    But it seems that the Irish Government, or the simply Irish people refuse to even think about it. “We want to stick with our tradition” – is all I can hear.
    It’s your problem – but you loose a huge amount of water with not having mixer taps in your hommes.
    It is needed a national program.
    Buy you’ll have result. Trust me.
    Good luck.

  2. I never bother with Ballygowan et al, I just get the “Value” sparkling stuff from either Dunnes or Tesco – something like 40c per 2 litre. After all, it IS just water. Always had something against paying for flat water, but with the current issues, the I’d probably pay the same price for the flat version too.

  3. Hi Cristi. That’s an interesting take, I’ve never heard of mixer taps. Excuse the ignorance, but what are they? 🙂

  4. This is it:

    It saves you a lot of time, a lot of water. Is very quick and handy. You just push up/down and left/right and you mix the water instantly, hot/cold – however you like it.

    It’s so European. Almost every house in Romania has something like this, almost every house in continental Europe has something like this.

  5. 2 bottles of Evian (500ml) for €1 in Spar

  6. 6 x 1.5L bottles of Evian for €2 something in Tesco. Can’t quiet remember even though I only bought them yesterday. €2.09 I think.

  7. Peter, mixer taps (if I understand right) would be one tap at a basin that presents both hot and cold water in one stream, as opposed to two taps, one with hot and one with cold. This would be usual in America, so I’m guessing that the thought is that it uses less water. As a native Californian, drought was just a way of life (and we had mixer taps), so you’re brought up to conserve water, though most of our toilets used more water than they do here.

  8. I’m with Cristi on this…. I come for eastern France where temperatures go well below -10 every winter and only rarely do we experience these problems. I think it only happened during the big freeze in 1986 when our pipes burst but it was far too old to cope. Mixing taps will not only save water, but also make your life easier. Have you ever tried to wash your hands with lukewarm water? In Ireland, you can’t: it’s either scorching hot or freezing cold, and you have to go from one tap to another to feel “comfortable”. My brother in law is a plumber, he had a look at our water installation (our apartment is only 4 years old) and he was dumbfunded. Water come out of the kitchen tap as alternatively cold and hot. We fill the sink to wash the dishes, unlike many people I know who just let the water run.

    Christi is right, a national program is needed. Communication about saving water alone will not change anything. And I’m all in favour of paying for my water consumption (but certainly not a flat rate….)

  9. @Alisha and nanazolie – thanks, you made my point. Is unbelievaible how hard is sometimes to wash your hands with lukewarm water. You have to put the cold water in your hands than go rapidly in the left to put hot water 🙂 . It’s a joke….and you loose a lot of water, indeed.
    And when I want to shower myself, another time lost for fixing the pressure, for fixing the temperature, etc, etc…. 🙁 . With mixer taps it’s just a matter of one or two seconds.
    (I wrote a link, after comment 3 Peter, for how a mixer tap looks, but is currently unde moderation).

  10. Is this tap thing a joke?

  11. Mixer taps. Whatever will they think of next. Thats the future that is.

    The government could introduce a scheme to provide grants for people to convert over to mixer taps. 😛

  12. Sarah, no, it’s not. Think about it: you leave the water run until it reaches correct temperature, or you need to go back and forth both taps to feel a confortable temperature when washing your hands. This doesn’t seem a lot, but it wastes gallons of water. Unfortunately, people won’t consider this until they have to pay for water consumption

  13. I meant, I have three mixer taps in my house! Surely they’re not that uncommon in Ireland? Or have I gone back in time?

  14. You’re a lucky one and that’s great. But the majority of Irish homes, at least I heard it, are using single taps, unfortunately.
    Yeah – I agree with nanazolie about paying the water.

  15. €1.51 for a five litre bottle of water in tesco. Heavy to lug home, but cheap.

  16. Wait, so you were going to drink sea water if you hadn’t found out the tank was simply unplugged? Sea water from the Mediterranean?? Crazy.

  17. No, of course not! The sea water was for washing up, cleaning, flushing the toilet and so on. We bought bottled water for drinking 🙂

  18. Actually, that’s a good point. I was thinking yesterday why don’t we have two water systems, one for drinking and one for the rest (washing, toilets, etc….)? In all countries I’ve been to, the water to flush the loo is the same as the water from the kitchen tap, so it’s potentially drinkable. I mean, not that you would drink it, but it’s been treated and thus is very costly. Since we are soon going to experience shortage of drinking water (worldwide), is it not time we try to use other sources like rainwater and sea water? And when I say “we”, I am talking about governments and builders, since the individuals wouldn’t really have the choice if they live in apartments or in cities