Hosepipe ban in place as heatwave set to roll on for another sunny week
A hosepipe ban hits Dublin today as the country faces another week of sizzling weather.
However, Met Eireann stressed that Ireland will not see a return to last week's near-record temperatures when parts of the country sweltered in 32C heat.
Instead, temperatures will hover between 22C and 27C, with the best of the weather in the east, south-east and midlands.
The south and west are likely to see cloudier conditions with occasional showers, particularly in Cork and Kerry.
Meanwhile, Met Eireann has issued a status yellow drought warning and said that little or no significant rainfall is expected over the next five days.
The warning will remain in place until Friday although farmers and livestock owners fear it could be extended.
A status yellow heat warning was in place until 9pm yesterday as temperatures soared close to 28C.
Today's temperatures are expected to rise to almost 27C, although temperatures will be lower in some parts of the country due to haze and cloud.
Coastal areas will also be cooler due to sea breezes.
From today, people in the Greater Dublin Area face fines of €125 if they flout the hosepipe ban, which is to last until the end of the month.
Irish Water chief Jerry Grant said he expected the ban to be introduced in other parts of the country as the heatwave continues.
Extra staff are being drafted in to take calls from members of the public reporting people who ignore the ban.
Irish Water is also encouraging people to report leaks.
A spokesperson said it expected the vast majority of the public will be "law-abiding" and will adhere to the hosepipe ban. However, a statement warned that Irish Water will act in cases where there is "excessive and continuous usage".
"If people want to report excessive usage they can call 1850 278 278 in the first instance and Irish Water will follow up from there," the statement added.
The company did not offer further detail on plans to enforce the ban. It does, however, have an option to appoint "authorised officers" to investigate complaints and it can use domestic water meters to measure usage in the case of a prolonged ban.
Last night, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy warned anyone tempted to breach the order: "Don't be stupid, don't be selfish."
He said the hot and dry weather could be prolonged and added: "We have to be mindful of how we are using water and mindful of others."
Irish Water said conserving water now would safeguard supplies in the autumn.
Mr Grant told RTE that the hosepipe ban showed "just how critical the situation is".
"During the week ahead, I expect we will have quite a number of hosepipe bans extended to schemes that are in trouble," he added.
The use of hoses is banned for watering gardens, washing cars and filling swimming and paddling pools. Rules surrounding garden sprinklers have not been clarified. Irish Water said there were 39 water supplies around the country subject to night-time water restrictions and more than 100 at risk due to high consumption.
Water usage in Dublin dropped marginally ahead of the ban being put in place. This was put down to people being away for the weekend and businesses being closed. However, the demand of 582 million litres a day is well above last year's figure.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture and Coillte warned that a status red forest fire alert remained in place. There have been two major blazes in Wicklow and Cork and, to date, major forest and gorse fires have occurred in Dublin, Wicklow, Cork and Limerick.
The Defence Forces have been assisting fire brigade units in the control of gorse fires.
Coillte appealed to people not to light campfires or barbecues in unapproved locations, not to dispose of hot ashes or cigarettes in a forest and not to dump glass near vegetation which, in intense sunlight, could accidentally ignite.