A series of ‘wilderness systems’ will be launched across the country, with a target of more than 10 million people using them by 2020.
The schemes will see people in some parts of the country using a mixture of conventional water and natural springs to generate their own drinking water.
They will also see the introduction of fresh water sources, as well as water-filtration systems, and the reintroduction of saltwater lakes.
The proposals are part of a €100m plan to upgrade Ireland’s water supply by 2020, including introducing a network of freshwater basins to the country’s rivers and lakes.
Water from lakes will also be pumped into aquifers to be used in the future.
A further €150m will be spent on a network to deliver drinking water to more than 1 million people.
In its report, The Future of Water, Waterwatch Ireland said the Irish Government had been slow to invest in infrastructure and water systems in the wake of the devastating drought.
“This report highlights the need for Ireland to invest more urgently to address the water crisis,” the organisation said.
The report also called on the Government to create a new system of national parks, which are already under threat from invasive species and pollution, and to develop a water management plan to address these issues.
Irish Water has previously said it plans to provide 500 million litres of fresh drinking water each year, and is already installing water-treatment plants across the island.
However, the programme is set to cost €7bn over the next five years, and water infrastructure is currently not up to snuff.
This is not the first time the Government has struggled to meet its water target.
The National Hydrology and Geophysical Laboratory has already identified a shortfall of 1.2 billion litres of drinking water for the Irish population by 2020; the report estimated that the shortfall was 3.2bn litres.
However, Water Watch Ireland said that despite this shortfall, the Government’s water plan “should still be ambitious”.
It said: “The Irish Government has a duty to its citizens to take immediate action to address Ireland’s acute water shortage and the Irish Water budget is already set to exceed its current water targets.”
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