Water supplies in southeast ‘most at risk’ as conservation urged

Areas in danger of drought include south and west coasts as dry August predicted

Turning the tap off while shaving or brushing your teeth can save up to 6 litres of water. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/ The Irish Times

Turning the tap off while shaving or brushing your teeth can save up to 6 litres of water. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/ The Irish Times

 

Homes and businesses in the southeast are most at risk of interruptions to their water supply as the dry conditions continue, Irish Water has said.

But the utility also warned some 70 drinking water purification plants across Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Wexford and Donegal are in areas that are in drought or at risk of drought.

As temperatures revert from recent highs to more normal levels for an Irish summer, Irish Water noted “longer term forecasts predict drier than normal conditions will continue into August”.

The utility said similar challenges were being observed in Northern Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland as the dry weather impacts on supplies.

Irish Water, which produces bout 1.7 billion litres of drinking water a day from 750 water treatment plants and emphasised the majority were “stable with no impact to customers”.

While most customers in counties at risk of drought have seen no impact to the water supply, there have been targeted night-time restrictions to ensure water supplies can be provided to customers during the day.

Tom Cuddy, Irish Water’s head of asset operations, said while there was higher than usual rainfall in May, it followed one of the driest Aprils on record and in some areas of the country there has been little or no rain since early June.

Over the past seven days there has been less than 1mm of rain and some stations in the Dublin area reported no rain at all.

Taps flowing

“Across the country Irish Water is working closely with our Local Authority partners to keep the taps flowing and we have put in place a range of measures including additional pumping at abstraction sources to increase supply of water, tankering water to reservoirs, changing networks to decrease the numbers of customers who could be impacted and in some cases reducing pressure at night-time to allow reservoirs to fill,” said Mr Cuddy.

He said there have been a a number of major burst water mains as increases in demand and drying ground conditions contribute to pipes breaking.

He thanked Irish Water customers for their patience and repeated recent announcements that there are currently no plans to implement a water conservation order such as a hosepipe ban. “The majority of our water treatment plants continue to provide unrestricted water supplies to customers despite the high levels of demand,” he said.

Mr Cuddy said “the key things are to leave the hose and the pressure washer in the shed; don’t use paddling pools; reuse household water for the garden; and take shorter showers. Safeguarding the supply of water is essential at this time when handwashing and hygiene is of critical importance. We are calling on everyone to play their part.”

“Conserving water is something that we should be doing year round,” he said.

Water conservation tips

  • Take a shorter shower and save up to 10 litres of water per minute.
  • Fix dripping taps or leaking toilets in your home.
  • When brushing your teeth or shaving, turn off the tap and save up to 6 litres of water per minute.
  • Save and reuse water collected from baths, showers, and hand basins in the garden.
  • Avoid using paddling pools.
  • In the garden use a rose head watering can instead of a hose and aim for the roots.
  • If you need to wash your car, use a bucket and sponge instead of a hose.
  • Report any leaks to Irish Water at 1800 278 278.