Ireland’s hosepipe ban: Everything you need to know

Hosepipe ban Q&A: Can I water my plants? Should I flush the toilet every time?

Irish Water has introduced a hosepipe ban across the country that will last until at least July 31st. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Irish Water has introduced a hosepipe ban across the country that will last until at least July 31st. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

 

Irish Water has introduced a hosepipe ban across the country from Friday morning.

What does that mean? What is covered? How long will it last? And how will it be enforced?

The month-long ban was introduced on Monday for the Greater Dublin region, and extended nationally today. It will last until at least July 31st.

What does it cover?

The ban prohibits people using their garden hose, with a few minor exceptions. People will not be allowed to use a hosepipe to water their garden or potted plants, wash their car or boat, or fill a paddling pool, pond, or water fountain.

People can still water their garden and plants using a watering can, and fill a paddling pool with buckets of water filled from the tap. The hosepipe ban on filling ponds does not apply if there is fish in the garden pond. The ban is in place 24/7 for the next month.

How is it enforced?

People can report their neighbours or anyone they see breaking the ban. A tip line to report excessive water use is available at 1850 278 278.

The water utility said they have added additional staff to man the phone line over the next month. The phone line can also be used to ask staff general water conservation queries.

A spokeswoman from Irish Water said staff would follow up on reports, and take actions where they found “excessive and continuous usage” of water.

However a day after the ban was introduced in Dublin, and parts of Wicklow and Kildare, Irish Water had received fewer than ten reports of people breaking the conservation order.

If Irish Water deem someone has committed an offence in breaching the conservation order, they can be fined €125, and prosecuted if they do not pay within 21 days.

Legislation allowing Irish Water to introduce a hosepipe ban is covered under the Water Services Act 2007, which gives the utility the power in cases of “serious deficiency” of water supply.

Why have they brought this in?

Irish Water have introduced the restrictions as demand for water is outstripping how much the utility can supply.

The greater Dublin water schemes can produce 610 million litres of treated water a day. During the height of the hot weather last week 615m litres was being used, but this has dropped to 578m litres a day, following the hosepipe ban.

The exceptionally high temperatures over the last week have also led to dropping water levels in lakes and rivers. On Wednesday Met Éireann said the vast majority of the country had entered a period of “absolute drought,” due to the sustained lack of rainfall.

Water reserves are being stretched to the limit, which may have knock on effects for water supply later in the summer, and even into the autumn, Irish Water have said.

Announcing the national hosepipe ban, Irish Water said average demand for water had increased by 15 per cent, which “cannot be sustained for any period of time.”

Will this last longer than July?

At the moment the conservation order is in place for the month on July. A spokeswoman for Irish Water said they will “continue to monitor all water supplies and will provide updates if any extension is required.”

“We have a collective community responsibility for the conservation of water, as they do in other countries when a hosepipe ban is in place,” the spokeswoman said.

What else should I do?

Irish Water have also called on people to take steps to conserve the amount of water they use generally.

People are being asked to take showers instead of baths, and to take shorter showers. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, and only run the dishwasher and washing machine on full loads.

If watering your plants with a watering can, Irish Water said people should do so in the early morning or evening, to limit evaporation.

When it comes to flushing the toilet, Irish Water’s conservation advice is to “let the yellow mellow,” as flushing the toilet is one of the biggest uses of water in the household. People are being asked to “consider only flushing the toilet when you really need to,” the utility have said.