Irish Water urges people not to run dishwashers or baths
People asked not to run taps in freezing weather and to have showers to save water
A scene from Inchicore, Dublin, this Friday morning. Photograph: Gavin O Ceallachain
Irish Water has asked people to conserve water during the freezing temperatures to reduce the risk of interruption to supplies amid the severe weather conditions.
The company urged people not to run taps in a bid to avoid frozen water pipes and went so far as to ask people not to operate dishwashers or washing machines and to take showers instead of baths.
The head of operations at Irish Water, Katherine Walshe, said that if people run taps it would reduce “precious” water supplies. Treatment plants are running at full capacity, she said.
Irish Water had prepared for the extreme weather by working in conjunction with local authorities around the country earlier in the week, she said.
Treatment chemicals were delivered to remote plants days ago and vulnerable customers were alerted by text offering advice, said Ms Walshe.
Power outages have affected some plants, but she said that crews were ready to go once it was safe to do so.
“We will work around the clock,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
There are a number of boil water notices across the country, with supply affected in some areas in the west. She called on the public to report any outages or burst pipes to 1850-278278.
Leave attic doors open
Ms Walshe advised that the best way to avoid internal pipes freezing is to keep on heat, even at lower temperatures, keep doors open to allow air to circulate and leave attic doors open.
Households and businesses are encouraged to protect pipes by minimising draughts by sealing or blocking cold air coming in windows or doors.
Irish Water is running its national crisis management team, supported by three regional teams with an appointed liaison engineer in every local authority.
The company’s crews were stood down while the red weather warning was in place but they are ready to deploy to fix leaks and burst mains as soon as it is safe to do so.
Calls about water outages will be logged after the red alert, which remains in place until 6pm, and the calls will be prioritised when the warning is lifted, the company said.
For areas that lose supply, alternative water supplies will be mobilised after the red weather warning is lifted.
The company said that smaller schemes may experience lower pressure due to high demand, which is why it is so important that people conserve water where possible.
Around the country
In Dublin the company is monitoring demand and is concerned about bursts in the network as treatment plants are operating at capacity.
A spokeswoman for Irish Water said there had been localised bursts in Dublin with a leak in Sandyford, which affected supply in the area, being repaired before the red alert came into effect.
There was a burst in Firhouse, where supplies were interrupted for a time. One resident in the Firhouse area said that Irish Water was “grossly underestimating” the disruption caused by the burst pipe.
Berneen Laycock tweeted that about 300 homes had been without water in the area for more than 24 hours.
A spokeswoman for Irish Water said that the company “sincerely regrets the loss of water to customers in Firhouse” and that the company had communicated directly with residents over Twitter.
In the south, a number of small local schemes with failed chlorination plants have led to precautionary boil water notices. High demand has led to a run-down of reservoirs, creating risks of restrictions.
In the west, Irish Water has reported issues in east and north Galway with heavy demand putting pressure on plans.
The plant in Carraroe suffered plant failure and the supply is restricted.
Irish Water said power had been restored to the Staleen Water Treatment Plant that supplies water to tens of thousands of homes in Drogheda and east Co Meath after an outage led to disruptions.
“Some customers may not have full pressure or service until late this evening as the water is restored to all parts of the system,” said a spokeswoman for the company.
If you suspect your pipes have frozen you need to turn off the water supply to your home immediately at the main stop cock (stop valve) in your house, normally located under the kitchen sink.
Where possible you should also turn off the water supply from your water tank – this is normally located in your attic.
Finally, turn off all your water heating systems and then turn on your taps to drain the system - this will enable you to minimise any potential water damage from a burst pipe.
If pipes have burst you will need to turn off the water supply to your house and water tank. If electrics are exposed to water, turn off your electricity supply at the mains and make contact with your insurance company.