Wednesday 20 March 2019

Hosepipe ban could stay until October as water still runs low

Poulaphouca Reservoir has significantly less water than at the start of summer.
Poulaphouca Reservoir has significantly less water than at the start of summer.

Water restrictions in place across the capital could remain in place until October, although Irish Water has not ruled out lifting the hosepipe ban before then.

The utility said there are just 70 days' worth of water feeding the Greater Dublin Area currently.

That compares with 150 days' worth back in early May before the heatwave and subsequent nationwide drought depleted supplies to dangerously low levels.

Despite this, a spokesperson for Irish Water couldn't say yesterday whether the National Water Conservation Order, or hosepipe ban, will be extended beyond the end of the August.


The order went into effect on July 6, making it an offence for homes or businesses to use hoses and otherwise waste water.

Whether or not the ban will be lifted at the end of the month will be determined closer to the date, the spokesperson said.

"The hosepipe ban is in place until August 31," the utility said.

Irish Water boss Jerry Grant
Irish Water boss Jerry Grant

"Irish Water will continue to review demand for water and rainfall levels over the month of August and should the ban need to be extended, a decision will be made on that later in the month.

"We know from historical records that in a dry autumn, it takes to the end of October before lake levels stabilise and begin to rise.

"It is therefore essential that the water conservation programme is continued throughout this period to ensure that heavy water restrictions that would impact on homes and businesses are avoided."

In a written statement, Irish Water added: "A combination of rainfall and conservation should be sufficient to avoid the worst-case scenario, but we cannot be complacent in a year which has seen new records for climate extremes."

Meanwhile, Irish Water managing director Jerry Grant said the levels of water supply at Poulaphouca Reservoir in Co Wicklow, serving the Greater Dublin Area, are now less than half they were at the start of the summer.

"We are managing with very depleted supplies," he told RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland.


Aside from coping with the longest heatwave and most severe drought here in 40 years, on top of blizzard conditions last winter, he said the situation is not helped by the poor state of the water network in the capital, much of which is apparently leaking.

A quarter of the 9,000km network of pipes is made of cast iron and was installed before 1960. They are now "pretty corroded", he said.

Adding to that, half of the pipe network laid between 1960 and 2000 was built on behalf of property developers and there was very little outside control, Mr Grant said.

"The reality is the frequency of bursts on the pipes laid in the 1980s and 1990s is every bit as bad as the pipes laid in the 1930s," he told RTE.

Meanwhile, the soil moisture deficit still remains high despite the recent deluge of rain and more forecast for the coming days.

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