Big thaw threatens to bring burst pipes and flooding

 

Tens of thousands of householder across the State will be without water or face severe restrictions in flow for days as a result of burst pipes caused by the thaw and cuts to supply by local authorities.

Water levels at reservoirs across the State are reaching critically low levels as the thaw sets in causing cracks to watermains and pipes in private property.

Several local authorities have had to introduce cuts and restrictions to supply in an attempt to restore capacity at their water facilities.

The demand for water in Dublin rose from 548 million litres on Christmas Day to 610 million litres on St Stephen’s Day, a volume which is far beyond the city and county’s production capacity. The city’s water plants can produce about 560 million litres of drinking water per day.

When water cuts were introduced in early December, due to the severe cold spell, demand in the capital had reached a height of about 575 million litres per day. At that time householders wasting water were partially blamed for the jump in usage, this time the strain on the system is almost entirely due to broken pipes and mains, a spokesman for Dublin City Council said.

“We are mobilising the maximum number of crews to deal with burst pipes. We have had four repair crews and six leak detection crews out in all parts of the city dealing with the breaks to water mains.”

The cuts and restrictions to supply which were imposed between 7pm and 7am in the period before Christmas are being extended to cover a period from 6pm to 9am to try and effect a recovery at the greater Dublin reservoirs.

A list of which water systems are being shut down and which will experience reduction in pressure is available on dublincity.ie. The restrictions will be in place until Wednesday morning at least, but it is likely that they will be continued until the leakages can be brought under control. Areas not on the restricted list could still suffer a loss of supply due to burst pipes, the council spokesman warned.

South Dublin County Council has is shutting down water supplies in Lucan and North Clondalkin until further notice. Large parts of Kildare and Wicklow, which are also supplied by the greater Dublin reservoirs will also be subject to shut down or restriction to supply.

Kerry County Council, has cut water supplies to more than 20,000 people in and around Tralee due to low levels at the reservoirs which supply the town. The council said it may need to cutt off water over the next number of nights.

Water supplies in Limerick, are subject to disruptions around Abbeyfeale Town and surrounding areas and also in Ballyneety and Caherconlish as the result of major water main bursts, and further disruption throughout the county is likely as the thaw continues.

Westmeath County Council said that it may be necessary to implement emergency shut offs without warning across the country in order to ensure that reservoir levels are maintained and to facilitate repairs. Water tankers are being deployed to the worst affected areas and residents are advised to boil the water before drinking.

Several local authorities are making hydrant stand pipes available for use, including Kilkenny and Cork city councils. Water collected from standpipes should also be boiled. Details of which standpipes are open will be available on the local authority websites.

Despite the heavy rain particularly in the west and south west of the country there has been little large scale flooding. Where localised flooding, from a combination of melting snow and rain, has affected roads, they have still been passable with caution.

Blizzard have continued to disrupt travel along the northeastern coast of the United States. However Aer Lingus flights did take off from Dublin Airport bound for New York and Boston this afternoon.