Irish Water has said it has received "less than ten" reports of people abusing the hosepipe ban, since the ban came into effect on Monday morning. The utility which also said its helpline experienced a "higher level" of calls on Monday and Tuesday, said it is preparing to release data on the number of calls involving neighbours reporting on those who defy the ban.
Defying the ban can face attract a fine of up to €125, but an Irish Water spokeswoman said as of Tuesday morning it hadn’t visited any households in relation to water wasting and no fines had been issued.
“The majority of calls have been from people seeking clarification or advice on restrictions and outages,” the spokeswoman said.
“I think most people are very responsible about this kind of thing and they understand the need for it and that it’s for the good of communities across the country.”
Irish Water said all calls to its helpline are recorded, and it was preparing a statement on the number of snitch calls for release on Tuesday afternoon.
A month-long ban on the watering of gardens, washing cars or boats, and filling pools from public water supplies, using a hose, came into force in the greater Dublin area on Monday. It is likely to be extended to other areas by the end of the week.
Irish Water said over the weekend it will follow up reports of excessive water use but would only take action where they did not receive a positive response from the householder or there was “excessive and continuous usage” of water.
If Irish Water decides to take enforcement action, a notice will be served on the person alleged to have breached the order giving them 21 days to pay a sum of €125. If this sum is paid, then a prosecution will not be taken.
“Irish Water does not want to take people to court, but will have to review its options in the case of a persistent breach of the order combined with a refusal to pay the on-the-spot fine,” it said
Irish Water managing director Jerry Grant has warned that if there isn’t significant rainfall in the autumn there will be “a nightmare scenario later this year.”
“We need sustained rain. Unless there is torrential rain we’re looking at a very dry autumn,” he said on Tuesday.
Water consumption levels in the greater Dublin area peaked last week at a record 615 million litres a day. While they have fallen back to 575 million litres a day following recent appeals and the hosepipe ban, the level remains significantly above the expected consumption of about 565 million litres a day.
Recharging ground water supplies will take a long time even when it starts to rain, Mr Grant explained as the first 300ml to 400ml will be soaked up by the ground and plants.
“We’re hoping that people will manage the supply,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
Mr Grant said that the hosepipe ban would be extended to counties Laois, Kilkenny, parts of Limerick, east and west Galway while in Athlone there is a production problem.
He said this also meant restrictions were likely to go on “right into September”.
Mr Grant said Irish Water staff, working along with Kerry County Council have “only just” stabilised a burst water main in Killarney “after 48 hours of really hard work”.
He said the company is coping with 1,000 burst pipes every month because of asbestos pipes laid in the 1960s. “
When they fail, they fail dramatically,” he said.
Replacing these pipes is “hugely expensive work” with “hugely disruptive effects” he added, but they are necessary to protect property and lives.
Mr Grant said the utility will invest €650 million this year in replacement pipes with a further €8.8billion earmarked under the National Development Programme, which is the highest investment in the world.
However, he said, Ireland still remained 20 years behind the UK in terms of investment in water infrastructure.