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Sunday 22 July 2018

Hosepipe ban threat as Irish Water says its reserve supplies 'won't last forever'

Maria Malina, Katerina Jurkeica and Karina Anastasian, all from Clongriffin
Maria Malina, Katerina Jurkeica and Karina Anastasian, all from Clongriffin

A hosepipe ban could be introduced across the country to reduce the demand for water during the heatwave.

Irish Water may also be forced to introduce restrictions on more than 620,000 people across Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Meath as the dry spell continues and consumption spikes.

Some 610 million litres of water a day are available to Greater Dublin, but 615 million were consumed in the past 24 hours.

Irish Water has been forced to use back-up supplies of treated water to meet demand, but warned it could not do this indefinitely.

It said it was considering the introduction of a hosepipe ban if consumption levels did not fall.

The move would ban the use of hosepipes to wash cars, water gardens or fill swimming pools.

It could also impact on those who use water parks and sports pitches, irrigate crops or operate car washes.

Fines of €125 can be imposed, which would be levied by gardai or an "authorised officer" operating on behalf of Irish Water.

Breaches

The company could also open a dedicated phone line for members of the public to report breaches.

It would also write to households that use excessive amounts of water.

Emily Cronin and Sean Peace, from Castlenock
Emily Cronin and Sean Peace, from Castlenock

Sources said a decision on such measures would be made in the coming days.

If implemented, it would be the first national hosepipe ban.

Yesterday was the hottest day in 42 years.

Shannon Airport recorded the highest temperature at 32C, just one degree short of the record of 33C achieved in 1887.

Athenry, Claremorris and Gurteen were among several weather stations across Ireland displaying 30C.

However, Dublin - with temperatures of up to 27.9C recorded in Phoenix Park - remained one of the cooler places in the country thanks to its position on the coast.

As the mercury rises in the capital, water pressure has been reduced to the lowest level possible across Greater Dublin to allow reservoirs to replenish as the lack of rain impacts across the system.

The reduced pressure is not expected to affect households or businesses, but further measures may be required as the dry spell continues.

Large water users, including Dublin Bus and Irish Rail, have committed to washing their fleets less regularly.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has been asked to tell schools to turn off the water once they close for the summer.

Irish Water director of corporate affairs, Kate Gannon, urged customers to reduce consumption wherever it was possible.

She asked them not to use hoses, to avoid washing their cars and to take short showers instead of baths to avoid the imposition of restrictions or hosepipe bans.

Irish Water crews were on the ground looking at how to boost output from at-risk supplies, she said.

"They're looking at pumping regimes, the depth of the well in the boreholes, operational changes to the network and optimising pressure management," she said.

"Any options we have to avoid outages is what we're doing now to keep water going to businesses and homes.

"Right now, the pressures are as low as they can be without impacting supply.

"It's the last thing we could probably do before moving to the next stage of restrictions.

"We are going to see how the system performs over the next 24 and 48 hours.

"We don't want to impact on customers."

With temperatures exceeding 30C in parts of the country yesterday, today is expected to be no different, with little let-up expected in the stifling temperatures.

Connaught and Munster are again expected to be the hottest places today.

"I'm reluctant to say it will be 32C today, but I wouldn't rule it out," said one forecaster.

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