No baths in the capital as water crisis worsens
BIG FREEZE: Dubliners asked to be vigilant as cold snap continues to cripple the nation
Dubliners were urged to avoid taking a bath today as engineers warned there was a major risk of water supplies being cut due to wastage, leaks and breaking pipes.
Road conditions improved overnight in the capital, but countrywide, motorists in Munster and and parts of Ulster and Connacht were still struggling with snow and icy conditions, with Cork Airport closed for much of the morning.
More sleet, snow showers, rain and low night-time temperatures are on the cards for most of the week before the big thaw sets in on Friday, weather experts said.
In Dublin, City Council engineer Michael Phillips called on householders to conserve water by avoiding taking baths, using only full washers, taking shorter power showers and only flushing the toilet when necessary.
People leaving their taps running during the cold snap could see the average house losing three gallons every minute or 6,000 gallons a day, he said.
Last Saturday, they lost 10 million gallons in one day from their treated water reservoirs, Mr Phillips said.
Generally, around this time of year, demand is lower but when production is exceeded it has to come from their strategic reservoirs, he explained.
Demand is higher and "we actually need people to conserve water." Some 80pc of leaks would be underground and not apparent as the ground began to thaw. It could take up to six months to repair all the leaks.
"The vast majority of people are very conscious of conservation," Mr Phillips said on RTE's Morning Ireland. The risk of water supplies being cut without conservation was "very high," at around 50pc, he added.
While Dublin roads improved overnight following rain showers, there was still a lot of slush and surface water on the roads and ice was still a problem on less used roads and in housing estates, AA Roadwatch said.
Dublin Bus operated a full service today while all Dart services ran to schedule. Irish Rail said there would be some alterations to some Waterford/ Heuston and Galway/Heuston services and Bus Eireann said the vast majority of its services in the east of the country operated with some delays.
There were some flight delays at Dublin Airport with Cork Airport suspending operations until midday because of heavy overnight snow.
Met Eireann said many areas would stay dry tonight, but it would be cold with frost and a danger of some icy roads.
Rain, preceded by sleet and snow, would spread northeastwards across the country tomorrow, but persistent and heavy rain leading to localised flooding in southern areas.
During Wednesday, winds will continue to decrease and outbreaks of rain, sleet and snow will become light and patchy with many areas becoming dry, but it will remain cold. Wednesday night will be "very cold and frosty" with a danger of icy roads and patches of fog. Most areas will stay dry on Thursday, with just a few scattered wintry showers.
During Friday, a very strong southerly wind will lift temperatures up to between 6 and 10C and bring a general thaw, Met Eireann said.
Another shipment of salt was due to arrive the Port of Cork for use on roads around the country. The 3,500 tonnes of salt will be distributed to a number of local authorities.
The Defence Forces said that 95 personnel, 27 4x4 vehicles and two Air Corps helicopters were deployed yesterday in "a range of taskings" from the civil authorities due to the severe weather.
"There are a further 450 personnel on one hour's notice to move in barracks around the country and this figure can be rapidly increased should further support be required," a spokesman said.
The Defence Forces tasks included delivering medical personnel to hospitals, delivering bottled water and food for cattle, helping remove a coffin from Marymount Hospice in Cork city and providing five 4x4 vehicles for Garda stations in Cork city.