Conservation gains from hosepipe ban may take weeks to emerge

Nationwide ban came into force at 8am on Friday as State remains in ‘absolute drought’

The hosepipe ban is currently in place until July 31st, but may be prolonged. Photograph: Tom Honan/ The Irish Times

The hosepipe ban is currently in place until July 31st, but may be prolonged. Photograph: Tom Honan/ The Irish Times

 

Water conservation gains from the national hosepipe ban could take up to two weeks to emerge, Irish Water has said.

Irish Water’s hosepipe ban, which came into force in the greater Dublin region on Monday, was extended nationwide on Friday morning as the State remains in a period of “absolute drought” and with no significant rain forecast for the next 10 days.

An “absolute drought” is defined as 15 or more consecutive days of less than 0.2mm of rainfall.

The ban currently only applies to Irish Water’s domestic customers, but a spokeswoman for Irish Water said this was “constantly under review” and could be extended to businesses, if reservoirs did not recover sufficiently.

“An extension of the restrictions is a possibility, but we have made no decision on that yet. We need to give the current measures a bit of time to see if it has been successful, and it could take up to two weeks to gauge how effective it has been.”

Under the Water Services Act, the utility could ban commercial car washes from using public water supplies, and could, if water supplies were at serious risk, restrict farmers from irrigating or spraying crops.

“We are already working very closely with the farming organisations, and we absolutely understand the huge pressure they are under at this time,” the spokeswoman said.

Irish Water has received fewer than 20 reports of householders breaking the hosepipe ban since it came into force in Dublin. However, this situation could change with the extension of the ban to all parts of the country for the rest of the month. Those found flouting the ban can be fined €125 and face prosecution if they fail to pay the fine.

Met Éireann weather stations have reported little or no rain over the last 30 days, but Irish Water said, with an average soil moisture deficit of 60mm means even if it did rain, no water would reach water sources for at least a week, “as it will be absorbed by the ground”.

The hosepipe ban is currently in place until July 31st, but may be prolonged if drought conditions persist and the levels of water in rivers and lakes continue to drop.

On average demand across all water resources nationally has increased by 15 per cent, Irish Water said, putting water supplies at risk into the autumn and winter. “Given the environmental pressures on the aquifers and waterbodies, this cannot be sustained for any period of time. Due to soil moisture conditions, smaller groundwater sites in particular may take many months to recover.”