herald

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Water crisis as the heat is on

Homeowners warned of restrictions

Christine DeOliveira and April Solon in St Stephen’s
Christine DeOliveira and April Solon in St Stephen’s

More than 10,000 households will be hit with water restrictions by tomorrow night as Irish Water warned that further cut-offs are "unavoidable" due to increased demand.

The main sources of raw water for Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow have dropped at rates similar to droughts in 1975, 1976 and 1995, and the utility expects to impose restrictions in Athlone tomorrow night, which will affect some 8,000 customers. Irish Water warned cut-offs in Dublin and surrounding counties will have to be introduced as the dry spell continues and demand spikes.

Dropped

Overnight on Monday, some 609 million litres were consumed in the greater Dublin area but the utility can only produce 610 million litres, meaning there is no spare capacity in the event of a mains burst or problem at a treatment plant.

The main sources of raw water for the Dublin area have dropped, with Pollaphuca levels some 1.73 metres below the maximum recorded this year.

While this is sufficient for the present, if demand remains high and the dry spell is prolonged, it could result in problems.

Last summer, an average of 565 million litres of water were consumed every day, but this has risen since the dry spell began. Last Friday, some 602 million litres was used but overnight on Monday, it rose, which left "almost no margin of supply over demand".

The issues are replicated in many schemes across the country, where supply and demand are under pressure.

"Demand for water is increasing while levels in rivers and lakes are dropping significantly, which means that there is less water available to treat and supply to homes and businesses," Irish Water said.

"To minimise the risk of supply failure, we need to conserve water in our sources including rivers, lakes and groundwater and avoid overstressing the production and distribution systems."

Kate Gannon, corporate affairs manager at Irish Water, urged people to cut consumption, saying leaks were being fixed but improvements would not be able to boost supplies.

Enda O’Carolan, a local from Mullingar, jumps into Lough Ennell
Enda O’Carolan, a local from Mullingar, jumps into Lough Ennell

"If the drought is prolonged, water restrictions would become unavoidable given the trends," she said.

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