Fears of crippling water shortages as heatwave expected
HUNDREDS of thousands of families now face water restrictions from next month because of the record dry weather.
Reservoirs serving the Greater Dublin region have only 120 days' supply left after extremely dry weather in recent months.
If the levels drop below 70 or 80 days and there is no sign of rain, restrictions will be imposed, Dublin City Council warned.
The measures would include cut-offs and a loss of pressure for homes and businesses in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.
“We've had a very, very dry spring,” said City Council engineer Brian Smyth.
At the same time, temperatures are expected to soar towards the mid to high 20s this weekend as Ireland prepares itself for the hottest summer on record for 30 years.
"At the moment we reckon we've about 120 days' storage capacity in the reservoirs.
"That would bring us around to the end of September. But at the end of September if it doesn't rain in the meantime, we don't have anything," he added.
However, according to weather forecasters, showers are on the horizon for Monday, which could help alleviate the problem.
"There are big changes on the way over the course of the weekend," Met Eireann forecaster David Rogers said.
"There will be wall-to-wall sunshine today and tomorrow but by Monday it will be well below average temperatures -- 10 degrees lower than temperatures today."
The council would like to have 178 days of untreated water at reservoirs in Poulaphouca, Roundwood and Bohernabreena.
Mr Smyth said they were trying to make people aware there is a possible problem "if we don't get rain".
"Also, our experience is, once the weather warms up the demand for water rises. We would like the watering of lawns to stop. A lawn sprinkler will use as much water in an hour as a household will use in a day," he told RTE's Morning Ireland.
"We're advising people early that we may have a problem and we're seeking their cooperation to help us minimise the risk of having to put restrictions in place," Mr Smyth said.
Water has not been rationed during summer months since 1997, although there have been restrictions during winter.
Met Eireann data shows rainfall in January, March and April were well below average.
Other counties also warned they were monitoring reservoir levels closely, with Wexford County Council saying levels in some reservoirs were "very low".
However, the local authority does not expect to have to introduce restrictions.
Dublin City Council supplies water to the four local authorities in the capital and large parts of Kildare and Wicklow, serving a total of 1.4m people and businesses.
Local authorities have powers to impose a hosepipe ban, forcing people to stop high-usage activities like watering the garden.
Met Eireann has predicted a dry weekend but rain is forecast for next week.
The fine weather will make a complete turnaround on Sunday when clouds move across the country and although it will be sunny in places, it will continue to feel a lot cooler.
Thousands of sun-seekers are expected at Ireland's biggest flower show, Bloom, in the Phoenix Park this weekend.
And the summer festival season kicks off with Bulmers' Forbidden Fruit -- Dublin's first alternative music session in the grounds of Irish Museum of Modern Art at Kilmainham.
It's also lining up to be a jam-packed sports weekend with Ireland facing Macedonia in a Euro 2011 qualifier while Dublin take on Laois in the Leinster SFC quarter-final on Sunday at Croke Park.