Water conservation Q&A: Are we back to a hosepipe ban?

Why Irish Water is urging conserving of water despite heavy rain earlier this month

Irish Water has set an  immediate target to save approximately 166 million litres of water per day. File photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

Irish Water has set an immediate target to save approximately 166 million litres of water per day. File photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

 

What is all this about water conservation? It was bucketing down in early July, how did we get short of water so soon?

To give one example, the demand for water in the greater Dublin area was 535 megalitres per day on Sunday, July 11th, and this jumped to 591 megalitres on Saturday, July 17th, amid the recent hotter weather. This increase of 56 million litres per day equates to the average daily use of more than 430,000 people.

So it is the heatwave then. But what are the issues with water supply, and why are we back here again after previous droughts and heatwaves?

Despite the aformentioned increase in demand, the overall supply-demand balance in the greater Dublin area remains stable, with reasonable levels of storage in the Vartry and Poulaphouca reservoirs, Irish Water says.

But there are now challenges to supplies in Wexford, Kerry and Donegal, with nighttime restrictions in place in Portlaoise and Longford and difficulties at Garristown in north Co Dublin.

Are we back to a hosepipe ban?

Not yet. Irish Water says that while the public is being asked to conserve water supplies, there are currently no plans to implement a water conservation order.

Why can we not just pump more water?

Some of Ireland’s water network, particularly in urban areas, is more than a century old. Every day 1.7 billion litres of water is distributed through the network but almost half of this clean water is lost through leaks. Some of those cannot take any more pressure.

So we have water that has been collected, transported to a treatment plant, treated, and sent out through the water network

being lost?

Not intentionally. But if we had that water we would obviously have lots more capacity to sustain us through heatwaves and droughts.

Is there a plan?

Irish Water will have spent €500 million on reducing leaks by the end of this year. There is also a big plan to take water from the Shannon to serve the midlands and eastern regions.

But until then?

The immediate target is to save approximately 166 million litres of water per day – that’s enough water to fill 66 Olympic-size swimming pools – through water conservation.