Dubliners face water restrictions as potential drought looms

Irish Water warns of ‘unavoidable’ restrictions if spell of dry weather continues

Dubliners are facing "unavoidable" water restrictions with a potential drought looming following the long spell of dry weather, Irish Water has warned.

A yellow weather warning is in place for the rest of the week across the country with temperatures expected to hit 30 degrees in parts of the midlands and west.

However, the risk of drought is particularly acute in the greater Dublin area, with demand on water supplies reaching “concerning levels”, according to Irish Water.

The utility can produce 610 million litres of water per day to serve the Dublin area. Last summer, an average of 565 million litres of water per day was used. But last Friday 602 million litres of water was used and overnight on Monday the levels were at 609 million litres leaving “almost no margin of supply over demand” Irish Water said.


"If the drought is prolonged, water restrictions would become unavoidable given the trends. Irish Water are appealing to the public to be mindful of their water usage, " Irish Water's corporate affairs manager, Kate Gannon said.

The utility’s drought management team is monitoring daily water supplies and demand, she said.

“Our drought management team are monitoring the situation daily across the country and we intend to provide regular updates nationally and at regional level, so that the public is aware of the position as it develops.

“This is a very serious situation and we are seeking the public’s help. Every effort the public make to conserve water will help to minimise risk of supply loss to them and their community.”

At many of water schemes around the country, supply and demand was already under pressure and the spell of warm weather has exacerbated this situation. Demand for water is increasing while levels in rivers and lakes are dropping significantly which means that is there is less water available to treat and supply to homes and businesses, Irish Water said.

At the same time, the sources, especially our main raw water storage at Pollaphuca, is dropping at similar rates to previous droughts in 1975, 1976, and 1995. To minimise the risk of supply failure, we need to conserve water in our sources including rivers, lakes and groundwater and avoid overstressing the production and distribution systems.

Already some areas in Athlone, Kilkenny, Longford and north Dublin have experienced outages and restrictions and areas in Donegal and Mullingar have been identified as being at risk, Ms Gannon said.

“Irish Water’s Leakage Reduction Programme teams are on the ground now but we also need the public’s support to reduce their water usage. The top three measures that people can take are not using a hose to water the garden or wash cars; keeping paddling pools very shallow if they are being used; and taking short showers rather than baths.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times